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The Key to Success: Passion for math and music help George Darko-Boateng ’20 find balance

George Darko-Boateng '20 plays the piano in Main Hall lobby

George Darko-Boateng ’20 plays the piano in Main Hall lobby

While growing up in Ghana, George Darko-Boateng ’20 and his brothers spent visits with their grandfather playing the piano. Usually, he would tap random keys for fun. But one day, Darko-Boateng recognized a note from a song he had heard in church. Determined to learn the whole song, he kept trying new keys and combinations until finally he was able to play it.

Today, Darko-Boateng plays not only the piano, but more than 10 other musical instruments.

George Darko-Boateng '20 performs on trumpet at the 2018 baccalaureate service

George Darko-Boateng ’20 performs at the 2018 baccalaureate service

“The piano still gives me chills,” he said. “When you’re playing, it’s like you’re communicating with your soul and you can really zone into the music and what you’re feeling.”

Although he learned many instruments in school, Darko-Boateng said his lifelong involvement in church is what really allowed him to explore his passion. He played piano in the boy’s brigade at his church in Ghana, where he received the inaugural “Best Boy” and “Most Promising Band Boy” awards for his musical abilities and potential.

When he reached high school, Darko-Boateng was the only first-year student selected for the regimental band. In addition to that honor, he was later named an academic head boy, which made him one of the highest-ranking student leaders in the school. With that title came respect from other students—and a confidence boost.

“It gave me the confidence to just go to rehearsal and pick up a saxophone with an alto part instead of playing my conventional trumpet, which was the instrument I mostly played,” he said. “Sometimes I’d even go in and play the euphonium or tuba.”

At Randolph, Darko-Boateng can usually be found playing the piano in Main Hall lobby or performing other instruments at the PanWorld Coffeehouse or other campus events. He’s also had the opportunity to perform at churches in New York City, Kenya, and even locally at Chaplin Church in Rustburg, Virginia.

Despite his talent and passion for music, Darko-Boateng has another love: math. A double major in economics and mathematics, he thrives on the being able to pursue both his creative side and his logical side.

George Darko Boateng '20 tutors math students

George Darko Boateng ’20 tutors math students

“There is a lot of counting and math in music,” Darko-Boateng said. “You have tempo, beat, and rhythm, and I often switch between major and minor chords. I feel like that’s the part of the brain where the two abilities intertwine to make you a better musician.”

For Darko-Boateng, studying math and music practice sometimes go hand-in-hand.

“I rarely say to myself, ‘I’m going to practice piano at this time,’” he said. “Most of the time, I’m studying or doing something else, and the feeling just hits me. In that moment, whatever I’m feeling or thinking comes out in what I play, and it helps me focus.”

Darko-Boateng sees himself as a business owner one day, but he knows that music will always be part of his life. He also credits his parents, brothers, band directors, church leaders, and other friends for their support and inspiration.

“When I think about all the things I’ve been able to do with music and really zone in on them, I know that it’s a gift that God has given me, and I should be appreciative of it and where it’s taken me.”

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