Not Your Average Student: Musical Prodigy at YSU

By Frances Clause

For most students who decide to further their education in college, their experience begins at the age of 18 or older. However, this isn’t the case for Youngstown State University student Jenna Provino, who began her first semester at 14 years old.

Provino, a junior music education major, chose YSU because her father and aunt are alumni, and she felt welcomed by the faculty immediately after her first college visit in 2016.

“I started school a year early, skipped fifth and seventh grade and combined my junior and senior year of high school into one year,” she said.

Provino attended public schools in Celebration, Florida, and during her final year in high school, she decided dual enrollment at Valencia College was a comfortable change of pace.

“[Dual enrollment] was very helpful to me because I pretty much had all of those first-year classes done by the time I got to YSU,” she said. “Then, I just took the classes I wanted for my major.”

Under the direction of Alice Wang, assistant professor of music, Provino studies the clarinet with the Dana School of Music’s clarinet studio.

Provino’s first music audition landed her in the highest ensemble, alongside much older and experienced players.

Photo by Frances Clause/The Jambar

“My first semester when I got into wind ensemble, I was absolutely floored,” she said. “It was so wonderful playing with such amazing people, and I think this really made me love music and affirmed for me that it’s what I wanted to do.”

Provino has been playing the clarinet for eight years and considers her studio a home away from home.

“It might be nice to have the normal schooling experience, but the people I’ve met because I made the choices I did would have never been in my life if I went standard,” she said.

Provino’s brother, Jacob Provino, is also a junior music education major at YSU, studying tuba. Although he is 19 years old and she is now 17, they assist each other to the best of their abilities.

“I personally enjoy seeing both of us growing up in the same field,” he said. “We were both in every ensemble and built our schedule around band.”

A love for music runs deep in Provino’s family tree of band directors and music teachers.

“Music rivalry between Jenna and I didn’t really happen due to just the difference in instruments,” Jacob Provino said, regarding the differences in musical repertoire. “Tuba rep is much easier than clarinet rep.”

“However, once Jenna caught up to me and was in the same grade and classes, there was some rivalry in general classes,” he added. “I think this happens naturally.”

When the siblings began high school together, they pretended to be twins so Jenna Provino wouldn’t lose respect due to her age at the time at just 11 years old.

“Toward the end of our first year in high school, someone found out Jenna wasn’t my twin,” he said. “I do feel sometimes that I was overlooked in school due to her being in the same grade as me, but younger.”

Jacob Provino said at the end of the day, he enjoys seeing his sister around in Bliss Hall often.

“We both share a music locker and tend to ask each other to get either coffee or food due to the business of the day,” he said. “Jenna has had my shoulder, and I’ve always had hers.”