Community School Spotlight: Dylan and Winston Iskandar

Dylan (left) and Winston Iskandar (right), 12 and 14, have been Community School students since 2010. They began in the Early Childhood program, and now study piano with Heewon Kwon and guitar with Kenton Youngstrom. They currently live in Manhattan Beach.

This interview has been edited for style, content, and clarity.

You’ve been at Colburn for basically your entire life. What’s it been like growing up here?
Dylan Iskandar: I witness and see many other people play really well. I look up to them and wanted to be like them when I grew up and have a really good music background. It’s been really fun because Colburn is a very nice environment. You can study and relax and hang out while doing your lessons.

Winston Iskandar: People are always supportive.

You started in Early Childhood. What do you remember from that?
WI: I remember playing the xylophone.

DI: I remember learning do, re, mi, fa, the hand signals.

What did you learn from the program?
DI: It was very good guidance for where we should start in music

WI: It gave us an introduction to what we could do with music.

What has it been like being in an environment like Colburn with a lot of professional and serious musicians?
DI: It’s very high standards. Every person has a standard and it shows how good I can be if I want to be, and to keep on trying my best. There’s no end of being good at music. Even the best of the best are still trying to learn music.

WI: You kind of understand that these people don’t practice 20 hours a day. They do practice a lot but they’re also humans. They play video games, they have fun, and it’s kind of a lifestyle.

What’s it like playing in a piano duo together?
DI: To me, a duo is a combined talent. It’s my talent and his talent, combined, and we communicate, we play together in synchronized forms and it’s really fun, yet sometimes we can get a little shaky.

WI: It’s tough. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not the hardest either, because you have another person you can rely on. If you mess up in a solo, you can’t really do anything about it. But if in a duet, the other can cover up for you and help you.

How long do you think you will keep playing together?
DI: A very long time, probably, because we’ve been playing really well together. When we first tried it, our teacher thought that if we kept making progress, we were going to get really good.

Why did you start learning guitar?
WI: In general, there are more competitions for piano and more opportunities to perform. Guitar is equally as fun, but it’s more as a hobby rather than a main thing.

DI: Once you know piano, like do re mi fa sol la ti do, with that piano knowledge of the note, you can basically go on every instrument and know a little bit of the background. That’s why our dad made us start with piano first, then guitar. Piano was the basis, and guitar would build on it.

What do you want to do with music in the future?
DI: I have an outline, not a super detailed one, but I will probably use music all the way through high school and try to make a second major out of music in college.

WI: It’s going to stick with me until I die, and it’s always something that’s going to be there. I will continue to pursue it and I think it will help me when I’m an adult, when I’m stressed out or something, I can always jam out.

DI: I saw something like music makes people’s brains, like Albert Einstein’s, a bit smarter, so I’ll keep it up.

What are some things that aren’t music that you’re interested in?
WI: I like robotics and building stuff. It’s always been interesting to me and I don’t spend as much time on it as piano. I play soccer, and I run cross-country, so it’s a balance of everything.

DI: I also play soccer. Sometimes at school, I play a sport that my friends are playing, because soccer can get kind of boring if I keep playing the same thing. I like variety and change. Next year I want to sign up for my school soccer team that he’s on currently.

Do you ever get tired of each other?
WI: Yeah.

DI: Yeah. Sometimes. But sometimes we help each other get like, extra dessert. We’re smart.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding students, faculty, and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.