July 30--SHELTON -- Playing music is Michaela Coppola's passion.
At 16, she is an accomplished jazz guitarist.
Michaela is following in the footsteps of her father, Michael Coppola, a professional musician who also specializes in playing guitar.
He performs at restaurants, corporate functions, weddings and more. He also plays at area hospitals, including the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby.
Last week, Michaela, also the daughter of Diana Coppola, was notified she was selected to play in a national honor jazz ensemble.
Her dad said that means she is the No. 1 jazz guitarist in the nation in her age group.
Michaela Coppola said she applied online to gain the position by sending in a video of herself performing. "I'm pretty excited," she said.
She has been playing guitar since she was 5. Michaela said she has two older siblings but she is the only one pursuing a music career.
Michaela's goal is to teach music at the high school or college level.
She will be a junior at Shelton High School next year. Her daily schedule is a hectic one, she said. She leaves Shelton High School and takes a bus to ACES Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven.
"I can't believe I've been doing that for two years already," Michaela said during a break from performing with her father in the lobby of the Center for Cancer Care.
Michael Coppola said he was extremely grateful to the Shelton school district for making "an exception" for his daughter to travel each day to New Haven. He said the Board of Education pays her tuition to the arts school and provides bus transportation for her.
Michaela said at the Educational Center for the Arts she studies music composition and participates in ensembles.
Some of Michaela's favorite musicians include Wes Montgomery, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and, she said, "my father." She often accompanies her father and they have performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival and The Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Westport.
She said she enjoyed performing with her father earlier this month at the Chet Atkins Festival in Nashville. "I had a great experience. There were kids (performing) even younger than me," she said. "A lot of guitar players bring their children" to play at the festival.
When Michaela was 13 she was the youngest member of the Fairfield County Jazz Guild.
She has studied with masters Claudio Roditti and Dave Stryker at the Litchfield Summer Jazz Program and the Neighborhood Music School summer program with Wayne Escoffery.
She was selected as the lead guitarist for the 2011 and 2012 Connecticut Regional Jazz Festivals and the 2012 Connecticut All State Jazz Festival.
She is a member of the Shoreline Community Big Band.
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