Wiscasset High School senior Abby Dunn hopes to pursue a career in music. (Photo courtesy Abby Dunn)
By Kathy Onorato
Wiscasset High School senior Abby Dunn, singer, songwriter and acoustic guitarist, has already written nearly 75 songs and has aspirations of having her own band someday.
Until Dunn was in the seventh grade she said she wanted to become a veterinarian Sometime during middle school her interest changed and she began to focused on music. “She started asking for things like a guitar and a keyboard,” said Abby’s mother Lenore Dunn. “She definitely was self taught.”
Dunn began practicing everyday and has been taking vocal lessons with her high school music teacher, Molly Winchenbach. Winchenbach has helped Dunn develop skills and self-confidence over the past four years, Abby Dunn said.
“I’m so thankful to have had her help and continuous support throughout these years, she’s more than a teacher to me, she’s a friend,” she said. Abby Dunn said Winchenbach has had a key role in her development as a musician. Dunn has taken piano, drum, and vocal lessons from Winchenbach.
During her junior year she had an independent study with Winchenbach which helped Dunn learn the basics of music theory. A jazz independent study is planned with Winchenbach later this year.
Winchenbach says she is impressed with Dunn’s dedication, not in just improving her vocals but also in learning music theory. “She has really grown because of the amount of effort she has given, Winchenbach said. “She is very mature for her age, and I am proud of the work she’s done.”
Dunn say she gets support and encouragement from her parents. “They give me the supplies I need to keep improving my skills, even while music is a very expensive career and hobby,” she said. “I know they stand behind me every step of the way, even with something as unpredictable as music.”
“Every time I watch her, I am more impressed,” Lenore said. Her mother said she continues to improve by putting more feeling into her songs. About two years ago Lenore told her daughter “out of love” she needed to connect more with her audience.
“Although I am impressed, I am not surprised. She is a go-getter,” Lenore said.
Abby Dunn said she pulls ideas from Miranda Lambert’s attitude and the folksiness of singer Ray LaMontagne “My lyrical ideas comes from the experiences of my friends,” Dunn said. One friend in particular often has relationship issues which makes for good lyrics, she said. Dunn’s favorite music is rock and her favorite group is Paramore.
While attending a songwriter’s workshop at Berklee in August 2012, she spent three days learning about lyrical structure, harmonies, writing melodies and finding inspiration for writing. “It was the first time that I had been surrounded by so many musicians that were my age who had the same passion as me,” she said. “I knew then that it would be best for me to go to a completely music-based school where everyone, no matter the major, had the same common interest.” She said she also made new friends and had the opportunity to co-write songs and jam with some of them. “It was an experience that I’ll never forget.” she said.
While at Berklee, she realized how much she liked the city of Boston and realized she wanted to go to college there.
Dunn has a big day coming up Jan. 11, 2014 when she will audition for Berklee, performing “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. During the audition she will also participate in call and response, sight singing and improv exercises.
She also plans on auditioning at Manhattanville College in New York and has applied to Northeastern University in Boston. Dunn has been accepted into Full Sail University’s recording arts program in Florida.
Recently she opened for Lauren Crosby at the Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath. She had a 20 minute time slot to fill and had a great time, she said. “The more and more I get to perform the less my level of anxiety is,” Dunn said. Dunn say the nerves will always be there, “but not enough to stop me from doing what I love again and again,” she said.
Dunn said once she makes it through her first song, she begins to relax. “The adrenaline kicks in and I just want to keep going,” she said.
Someday she hopes to have an actual band and do some touring, “I like the idea of a band and having your closest friends with you every step of the way,” she said.
Dunn is currently enrolled in an advanced music theory class at Wiscasset High School, which she says will help her in all areas of music. “I want to be sufficient in performance, theory, and technology. This is why I’ll be going to school to study music production,” Dunn said. She hopes to be performing while attending college. “Studying music production is basically a ‘plan b’ for me,” she said.
“It’s everyone’s dream to be a star,” Dunn said.