The harpist

The Spectrum

Most 10-year-olds spend their time playing outside, watching cartoons or enjoying the "Hakuna Matata" life of being a kid. For Taylor Gorman, a freshman mechanical engineering major, her memories from age 10 are quite different.

She was busy performing at a wedding; she was playing the harp.

"When people walk into a room and see you play the harp, there's always an initial shock because it's not every day you see that," Gorman said. "It's kind of awkward at first because they stare at you like, 'What is she doing?' And when I came to UB, people didn't believe me at first when I told them I played the harp, so it was funny seeing their reactions."

Gorman was playing at her friend's aunt's wedding when she was 10 years old, and though she was one of the younger guests in attendance, her talent with the harp stole the show.

Eight years later, with more experience under her belt, Gorman continues to awe spectators with her talent, while living out her passion for music.

Since being introduced to the piano and the harp at the age of 5 by her mother, Gorman has taken lessons to improve her skills. She became a member of her high school orchestra in her hometown of Orchard Park, N.Y.

"I enjoyed playing them both simultaneously, but the harp is different and it's really rare to find a harpist," Gorman said. "When I'm playing the harp and performing, I feel driven to give it my best. When I'm stressed or need a break from keeping up with school, I often sit down at the harp or piano and play to release these feelings."

To Gorman, the hardest aspect of playing the harp is the technique. She said many people think it's only about plucking strings, but it has a lot to do with posture and finger positioning.

As a freshman, Gorman has achieved academic accolades along with her strides in music. With her busy schedule between participating in UB Concert Band and taking 18 credits, Gorman's biggest challenge has been managing her workload.

"Overcoming this challenge comes with time management and motivation to succeed," Gorman said. "I believe my biggest accomplishment so far has been my academics."

Though Gorman is new to the college scene, she's going through a journey with her friends and family - like her older brother, Cody Gorman, a junior psychology major with a pre-dental concentration.

Cody describes his sister as "very outgoing, compassionate and extremely intelligent." The two siblings have a great relationship - better than most, Cody said - because they're always there for each other.

Some of Gorman's biggest fans are her family members and their support for her passion for music is something she cherishes.

"Really, I'm the only musically inclined [person] in my family, but they definitely support me," Gorman said. "My mom loves it. In high school, she even bought the minivan for the harp so we could take it home just so I can play for her."

One of the main things Gorman misses from her high school days is playing sports. She was involved in soccer, basketball and lacrosse. But since she started college, she has had to sacrifice these sports.

She has, however, picked up Frisbee.

Gorman wouldn't change her college experience for anything. To her, the freedom she's experienced is the best part.

Friends have been a big part of her college transition and Gorman feels lucky to find a good group of people to share her experiences with, like her friend Katherine Czerniejewski, a freshman biomedical engineering major.

"It's amazing to watch as well as to listen," Czerniejewski said. "She is unique as a person, so it's only fitting that she plays such a unique instrument."

Though Gorman no longer plays the harp at weddings as much anymore, she continues to play in school plays and at a few UB events. She has also performed at other events such as an event for the Honors College, a fashion show and at a Canisius College alumni dinner.

"I remember cutting my finger on a beaker in chemistry the night before I had to play for the Honors College," Gorman said. "I immediately ran upstairs to the harp just to make sure I could still play for the event."

Luckily, no damage was done and Czerniejewski was able to see her perform, allowing her get a grasp of Gorman's talent for the first time.

As Gorman continues to embark on her journey at UB, she hopes to keep playing the harp and wants to take more music classes. She wants to declare music as her minor.

Gorman plans on going to graduate school with her mechanical engineering major. She has ambitions to one day manage an engineering firm or become a traveling representative for a firm because she loves traveling.

One of the best aspects about college for Gorman and Cody is being able to share the college experience together as a family. With her brother around as a shoulder to lean on, Gorman plans on conquering all obstacles that come her way.

"[As far as going to college together] I wouldn't want it any other way," Cody said. "Although we both have very busy schedules, we make the time to see one another - sometimes over meals or even just for a quick hug. It's such a comforting feeling knowing your family is there."