Where are they now? Zachary looks forward to his next crescendo

“More Good News” featured Zachary Slade 10 years ago when he was 8. He was, and still is, a gifted pianist. He is more than a musician, however, as he has matured into a young adult eager for the next challenge in life.

How has your life changed in the last 10 years?

The biggest thing that happened was making it through school. I had difficulties I had to overcome over the years, but graduating is really the point where I feel my life begins. Especially the past two to three years, everything in my mind was about making it to this point, and in the end, I got here. I feel now that I am in charge of my life and I can finally be who I want to be.

People in our parish know you from playing the piano at major religious events. Was that hard for you as a child and is it any easier now that you’re an adult?

ABOVE PHOTO: Faith has played a major role in Zachary Slade’s first 18 years. “God was there in my life even if nothing else was. Faith kept me grounded as I hit rough spots in my life because of this.”

Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. The performances I got the most nervous from were competitions: I had one shot to play my pieces, by memory, in front of expert judges who I never met before. In the parish, I felt far more at home, and I knew many of the people I was playing for, so I felt way more at ease. Hearing all the compliments after my performances helped a lot as well.

Music and playing the piano have been a major part of your life. How did you get started and when did you realize that you were great at it?

I started when I was 4 after my mom found a local piano teacher. She did this partly because I would always climb on the piano when I was very little, and she thought I might have had a connection to music. She was correct. I had a lot of competitions and I traveled to Poland twice: once for a competition when I was 8 years old, which I placed third in. I always heard people saying, “You’re so amazing for your age!”A when I was little, but I would always face people in competitions who were better than me. I was always on someone’s tail, but the standard was raised every year, and although there was always someone ahead of me who won the competitions, my skill would continue to rise and rise. Progress seemed very gradual, but eventually I saw how much I progressed by comparing myself to those around me. At this point, I feel pretty confident, especially when I got second place at the B-Sharp Scholarship Competition. I did not get first (again). I was chasing the tail of someone who was significantly better than me, but I saw how far I came after winning that award.

 Why do you love music and playing the piano so much?

Achievements. I would not have any motivation to play if it wasn’t for goals and achieving those goals. Performances and competitions are both chances for me to validate my hard work. If the bar keeps getting raised and I meet the bar, it is very rewarding.

Where does music fit into your future?

I plan on minoring in music and technology at Stony Brook. The curriculum for the minor involves a few theory and audio engineering-type classes, but it allows me to continue piano lessons and possibly audition for the university orchestra. At the very least, I will take lessons in college and maintain my level of piano playing I do right now. I’m hoping to always have piano gigs as an option for a side hustle, in college years and beyond.

You’ll be attending Stony Brook majoring in chemical and molecular engineering. Please explain what that is and what you hope to do in the future with that education?

Think chemistry major with a far more intense workload and a senior thesis. The reason I picked the major was because I loved AP Chemistry in school, and most importantly, it is a well-paying degree. The doors the major lead to are numerous, and I have no idea what my career plans are, but I know I will figure them out in my college years.

One of your favorite things to do is climbing the High Peaks of New York. You have climbed 26 of the 46 and hope to do all of them. How did you get started in that and what is it that you like about hiking?

My dad and I went to the Adirondacks for a camping trip in 2013 and came across a manual for the Saranac Lake 6ers. We saw a small mountain (Mt. Baker) on the manual and decided to hike it. That same week, we decided to try a mountain over three times the length of Baker, with a far more grueling climb. We completed it. After that, we finished the 6ers in two years, and we decided to start the Adirondack 46ers, since that seemed like the next logical step. We started with Cascade and Porter, the easiest two, and they got significantly harder from there. But as we climbed mountains year after year, we figured we were too far in to stop. And now we have over half of them done and plan to climb three to four more this year.

In our parish, you have been an altar server, played piano during services and now assist in our livestream Masses. What is it that you like most about our parish?

There are a lot of great things about the parish, but the greatest has to be the people. There are people that I have known and been close with all my life, and there are others who I met more recently. Regardless, the people I met at the parish have all been so welcoming and supportive. Whether that be Father Cesta, my lifelong friends, or people I see at 4:30 Mass, everyone I have met from our parish is super awesome.

How has your faith played a role in your life?

God was there in my life even if nothing else was. Faith kept me grounded as I hit rough spots in my life because of this.

 You said you will see “what the future holds for me. I am going to go to college and see where life goes from there. Anything could happen.” Please explain further?

I have never had a solid idea of what my career plans were. I took classes in high school, and I found something that seemed the most appealing to me (chemistry) and decided to follow that lead into college. I will have a far greater array of classes in college, and access to career-planning services. I might end up taking an entirely different path entirely — who knows. But I will only have an idea once I put myself out there and see what the world has to offer through the lens of college.

What advice would you have given 8-year-old Zachary from what you have learned over the last 10 years?

You’ll make it someday. It might be long, it might be hard, but you’ll get there. Honestly, for me at least, childhood is not all it was chalked up to be. There was definitely more that I could have done throughout the past 18 years, but many of those years involved overcoming many struggles, and of course, piano practice. I don’t really have much to say about my old self, and I view this point as the true start to my life.

Zachary Slade

  • Age: 18.
  • Family: Mom Maria Quintal, dad Mike Slade, dog Kendo.
  • Education: Graduated this year from New Hartford High School with highest honors. Going to Stony Brook this fall majoring in chemical and molecular engineering with a minor in music technology.
  • Things I like to do: Hiking, mountain climbing, watching football.
  • Favorite book: “1984.”
  • Favorite movie: “Top Gun: Maverick.”
  • Favorite TV show: “Impractical Jokers.”
  • Favorite quote: “Due tomorrow, do tomorrow.”