spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer
NASA Logo - Jet Propulsion Laboratory    + View the NASA Portal  
JPL Home Earth Solar System Stars & Galaxies Technology
spacer spacerGenesis Banner spacer
Mission Science Technology Education People Multimedia Gallery Get Involved Genesis Home
spacer spacer

KidsStudent spotlightGirl and Boy ScoutsGenesis gramse-newsletterGenesis patch contest Back to Genesis homepage

Play video icon


Testing to Assure Mission Success:
A Look Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory

Viewing this video through your browser in Quicktime requires a minimum connection of 56K

  src="../../images/spacer.gif"   GET INVOLVED


Dara, age 17
Students can get involved in the Genesis mission in lots of ways—even with their music! Dara Mersky was 17 years old and a high school student when she composed the pieces that became the musical signature for the Genesis mission video, Testing to Assure Mission Success: A Look Inside Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Dara, age 17
ear clipart Hear Dara's music
"I'm grateful that I was able to contribute to something so worthwhile."




The following interview occurred between Dara (then a college sophomore) and Genesis outreach team member Jacinta Behne on November 29, 2002.

JB: How long have you been studying the piano and at what point did you start to compose your own music?

DM: I've been taking lessons for about 10 or 12 years, and it started out that I would hear my mom or dad play a song and I would play by ear. I took lessons pretty much from age eight all the way through high school. I started figuring out things on my own, putting together chord progressions that I thought sounded pretty good, and that was around age 15. From there I built on that, and took short pieces, putting them together. The first composition that had a title was an Irish tune that was a compilation various instruments, formatted on the keyboard as a piece.

JB: Your compositions titled "Unrequited" and "Flight of Fancy" were chosen for the Genesis "Testing to Assure Mission Success" video. Is there a story behind those two musical pieces?

DM: They were written about a year apart. It was summertime, and I was 16 when
I wrote Flight of Fancy first. It was really just me sitting down at the piano and putting together things that I had heard before. I began by testing things out, and both pieces became works in progress. Neither one really represented something specific. They were simply fun things for me to do.

JB: What does the process of creating a musical composition look like from the point of beginning until you consider the song complete?

DM: For me it has to do with the chord progressions and putting together the harmonies and the melody—-how it sounds together, and how it builds. From there you can go into stylistic things, separating out parts of the melody for the right and left hand. But really, the chord progression is the thing, and from there it just blossoms.

JB: What process did you use to record your songs?

DM: At the beginning of my senior year of high school, I was applying to some competitive colleges. One thing that I decided might set me apart from other applicants would be that I composed some songs. My Dad knows someone who has a recording studio, and I reserved an hour at the studio. That part was stressful. In the studio, I had to be able to go through the piece without mistakes. After I spent the hour recording, I chose the recordings that were best. I went back a week later and selected the CD design and completed the process with submissions ready to send to colleges.

JB: Has studying music influenced your everyday life, and if so, in what way?

DM: Absolutely. I am a lot more aware of the mechanics that go into a piece when I listen to it every day. I have a lot more appreciation for what goes into the composing and recording of it. Music is a big part of my family. I grew up listening to the Beatles, and so music for me is sentimental and meaningful.

JB: Do you play any instruments other than the piano?

DM: I play a little guitar from my Dad teaching me, and I sing.

JB: Do you have any advice for students who are considering taking up the piano?

Yes, do it! Learning any musical instrument—especially piano—can bring a multitude of facets to your life. Piano provides a good basis or solid foundation for studying any other musical instrument. It helps your analytical and cognitive abilities. There have been studies that prove this.

JB: Now that several years have passed since you wrote the songs, where are you in your educational career, and what are your professional goals? Is music in your future?

DM: I would like to have music in my future. That might be just me playing for fun. I'm uncertain as to my future. I'm in my sophomore year at the University. I'm a double major in English and Spanish. For career possibilities, I'm considering law, public relations, and maybe screen writing.

JB: What does it mean to you knowing that in some way, you have contributed to the work of a NASA mission?

DM: It's definitely a greater accomplishment than I ever expected to achieve with my music, because the compositions were something that I just did for fun. I'm grateful that I was able to contribute to something so worthwhile.

  gray nav bar  
spacer spacer spacer
FIRST GOV + Freedom of Information Act
+ The President's Management Agenda
+ FY 2002 Agency Performance and accountability report
+ NASA Privacy Statement, Disclaimer, and Accessiblity Certification
+ Freedom to Manage
NASA Home Page


spacer spacer spacer
spacer spacer spacer