Sara Rafaeil: Her Music, Future, and Life Advice

The highly accomplished choir president, actress, and All-National Choir virtuoso talks about her engagement with and her love of music.

When Sara was first developing her love for music, she dipped her feet in the NYSSMA water, immediately ranking among the highest in New York State. Soon after, she made All-State for choir. Following that recognition, she auditioned for the prestigious Nationwide Choir, and got accepted.

Rafaeil made All-County for choir in her sophomore year, which to her was “life changing.” She is currently the choir president, and appreciates being around peers who also deeply care about and have a passion for music. She is glad to be in a room with “a bunch of nerds, who are nerds in the same way that [she’s] a nerd!” 

“It’s just so nice to be in a room with a bunch of people who are passionate about the same thing that you are,” Rafaeil said.

When thinking about her future, Sara is considering a career in music therapy. To her, music feels “like something [she] was born to do”. Considering that she does not come from a family of musicians, this idea is even more impressive. In addition to furthering her love of music, Sara is also passionate about working with kids with special needs—a sentiment that largely stems from her youngest brother being autistic. She recalls being fascinated when sitting in on his therapy sessions. Sara loves seeing how people function and react to music, and she is especially inspired by how children, who are neurodivergent like her brother, bond with music.

“There’s so much uniqueness to music, the same way there’s so much uniqueness to people,” Rafaeil said.

Credit: Ava Hoffman

While Sara doesn’t have any family members who are involved with music, she has quite a few friends who are and gravitates towards that community. 

“I feel like my love towards music is innate…I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.” 

Rafaeil recalls singing all the time even as a little kid, writing songs and acting out plays with her sister.

Sara is also involved with chorus and the school theater productions, helping her pursue her interest in the arts. She notes some great influences along the way, including her chorus teachers in middle and high school: Mrs. Murdocco and Dr. Levy. Her middle school chorus teacher, Mrs. Murdocco, specifically pushed her to take part in the musical and to step out of her comfort zone, opening up Sara’s world to new people and a new stage. Rafaeil also enjoys her music theory class taught by Dr. Levy, saying that she loves learning the “grammar to music”.

One challenge that Rafaeil has faced is the perspectives of others around her. Not everyone views working with music as a true occupation and many have been judgmental, making the fairly common assumption that anyone pursuing music will struggle to make money as an adult. Another difficulty hits a little close to home, as her parents have differing views on her pursuit of music as a college major and her desire to attend a music school. However, no matter the outcome, Sara is determined to go on a path of her choice.

Credit: Ava Hoffman

Rafaeil’s favorite book, The Catcher in the Rye, also had an impact on her life. The protagonist, with all of his small little imperfections and countless bad decisions, was a character to whom Sara felt she could relate to. “I saw this guy who really was struggling so much with everything, and I was like: ‘he’s so relatable’”.

To those in a similar position, Sara has a simple piece of advice: “Regardless of what your boundaries are, regardless of what’s holding you back, just try anyway. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to. Don’t completely cut the option out. Give yourself that option, just in case it’s something you want to do.” 

Sara herself has followed that motto, and so far, it has yet to fail her.