For John Jay High School senior and music technology student Lily Oyen, music is more than just a class—it’s a passion that drives her.
Born in New York City, Lily was 5 when her family moved to Lewisboro. While attending Increase Miller Elementary School, Lily began gravitating toward music. She started piano lessons at 6, which would serve as the launching pad for her musical exploration.
Once Lily became comfortable with the piano, she began studying the cello, guitar and ukulele.
While attending John Jay Middle School, Lily started to compose her own music and, in the seventh grade, participated in an honors performance choir at Carnegie Hall. When she arrived at John Jay High School, her composition efforts reached new heights with her enrollment in Amy Geiger’s music class.
It would be her relationship with Geiger that would set Lily’s future as an artist.
In Lily’s sophomore year, Geiger encouraged her to apply to a music program at NYU called Future Music Moguls. The 14-week program, offered at the Tisch School of the Arts, is designed for talented high school students who are interested in the contemporary music business. Upon Lily’s acceptance, she became the first John Jay student to attend the program. The program, which met every Saturday, focused on not only the “creative process behind writing and recording songs” but the “business decisions that help music wind up in the hands of audiences around the world.”
Lily’s work reflects an eclectic mix of genres, a product of her varied inspirations. She labels her style as “pop with hints of rock and jazz.” Since attending John Jay, Lily has composed around 50 songs, two of which she has released on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music.
In her evolution as an artist, Lily believes her success has been made possible by the musical resources available at John Jay, such as its music lab and recording studio. However, the most significant John Jay resource to her growth has been the constant support she has received from Geiger.
“I owe it all to Ms. Geiger…She is the reason I am pursuing music,” Lily said.
Geiger described Lily as “a hard-working and dedicated student who has exceptional self-discipline.”
Not only does Geiger speak of Lily’s strong work ethic, she acknowledges her ability to be a “true team player” who knows when to take the lead but also when to “take a step back to allow others to shine.”
In addition to Lily’s music studies, she is a member of several student music organizations. Since her freshman year, she has been a part of John Jay’s Vocal Jazz Ensemble. Last year, Lily and the vocal jazz group won first place at the 51st annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival. Since her sophomore year, Lily has belonged to the Treble Makers, a coed a cappella group of which she is now a senior leader. Lily also participates in the school’s musicals, singing and acting. Most recently, Lily appeared in “Guys and Dolls” in the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
While Lily sees her future behind the scenes as a producer, she loves to perform and has enjoyed the performance opportunities she has had at John Jay. However, the commitments of such activities can be intense. When rehearsing for a major show, rehearsals can go until late at night.
When not performing, Lily can be found taking on leadership roles at John Jay. She is active in the Katonah-Lewisboro School District’s ArtsALIVE organization, which promotes the arts in the district. Lily serves as a member of its student board for the 2019-2020 school year, representing the music technology program. This year, she hopes to further the idea of creating a community for the arts at John Jay. She feels that many students she speaks with at John Jay have an admiration of the arts, but they don’t have enough time to take an art class. Thus, the organization is hosting events that allow all students, no matter their academic focus, a chance to participate in arts experiences.
She is also a member of the Tri-M Music Honor Society, which is an international honor society for middle and high school students. The Tri-M organization “recognizes students for their academic and musical achievements, rewards them for their accomplishments and service activities, and inspires other students to excel at music and leadership.”
Outside of school, Lily has belonged to several bands over the years. This summer, she participated in a program called Sound Thinking NYC at the City University of New York. The program “is designed to open doors for young women to explore careers in the music industry.” Lily has also worked as a lifeguard at the Lewisboro town pool. This year she will be starting a new job at Caramoor where she will be supporting visitor services.
Preparing for life beyond John Jay, Lily already is thinking ahead to her senior internship, for which she plans on working at a recording studio. She hopes that her internship will enable her to get a feel of what it’s like working with artists across the musical spectrum. For college, Lily plans to pursue a double major in music technology and business, with a focus on music management, and to minor in French. She wants to be able to use her skills to not only produce music but to excel in areas such as band management. Ultimately, her hope after college would be to take a seat in the producer’s chair. Lily dreams of the day when she can work in a studio supporting artists of varying genres, especially female artists. She has experienced firsthand how hard it can be being female in the music industry, especially in music production, which is still heavily male-dominated. Lily wants to one day be in a position to help young, aspiring female artists.
Lily is the daughter of Julie and Greg Oyen. Julie Oyen is a beekeeper who also works part time at Pick Up Every Stitch in Mount Kisco. Greg Oyen is a visual effects artist who owns and operates XL-FX VFX Inc.