Ashton Edminster, a 17–year–old singer-songwriter and student at Texas Virtual Academy (TXVA), is using the opportunities online schooling gives her to focus on her budding music career.
Inspired by Disney Channel singers like Hannah Montana and Selena Gomez, Ashton decided that she wanted to pursue a career in music at the age of 11. Now Ashton’s music career is thriving, with over 15,000 followers on her Twitter page, @MusicByAshton, and an EP on iTunes called For My Darling. Her first single, “Break the Distance,” debuted in the Top 10 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts and sold 1,000 downloads in the first 24 hours.
“It was crazy. I didn’t even know until I checked Twitter,” Ashton said. “Everyone bought it at the same time and someone told me, ‘Hey you are on the singer-songwriter chart on iTunes!’ I was like, ‘What that’s me!‘”
Because Ashton’s music career took off so fast, her mother, Cathy Edminster, knew that online schooling would be necessary in order to keep Ashton on track with her school work and growing music career.
“Through middle school we were able to manage both school and her craft, although her schedule was crammed full and there was very little down time,” Cathy said. “After the first semester of high school, it was clear that there weren’t enough hours in the day, so we made the switch. Just eliminating the wasted time during the day like passing periods, time for each class to settle down and get down to work, lunch, etc., made a big difference.”
Ashton appreciates the convenience of TXVA that allows her to balance her school work with her music career.
“I can get things done quicker because you can work on it anytime wherever you need to,” Ashton said. “You can just bring your laptop with you, which is perfect for me since I have to go to performances. I can just take my work with me and I won’t get behind.”
Ashton’s teachers at TXVA provide a huge support system and act as a convenient helping hand whenever she needs them.
“My teachers are great because I can just call them on the phone and they can help me through things,” Ashton said. “I also like the live lessons because you can communicate with them through chat box and it’s really great because they’ll know that you need help for that specific thing.”
Along with helping her handle her busy schedule, TXVA also helps Ashton manage another aspect of her life: her attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Thanks to the individualization of online schooling, Ashton has been able to better focus on her school work and even lower her dosage of ADHD medication.
“TXVA helps because it’s just me,” Ashton said. “Sometimes I still get distracted, but it’s different from brick and mortar school because there are other people and noises and so many things that can get you off track. With online school I can sit there and focus on school and it can be silent or I can have any music on that I want – whatever I need to keep me on track.”
Cathy has been able to personally witness Ashton’s professional and academic growth, and she attributes much of that growth to her time with TXVA.
“Professionally I don’t think she would be as far along as she is musically for the simple fact that her creativity would have been more restricted either by time or perimeters,” Cathy said. “She is able to respond to industry demands, including social media, as needed, and that wouldn’t be possible at brick and mortar school. Additionally, should a song lyric pop into her head, she now has the freedom to pause school, write down the lyrics, and resume school.”
The flexibility of online schooling not only helps Ashton balance the time she dedicates to her music, but also the time she devotes to her herself and her friends.
“I can get school done and then I can work on my music and then still have time so it gives me that free time that I didn’t used to have,” Ashton said. “I used to just go to school, come home, write my music, do my homework, then go to bed and I never had time for my friends. But with TXVA I have a lot more free time.”
As Ashton completes her senior year and continues to pursue a career in music, Cathy believes that TXVA has prepared her daughter for her future endeavors.
“There are skills learned via online school that wouldn’t have been learned in the regular classroom,” Cathy said. “The time management and self-management she has learned is a valuable skill that will help her in life. Should Ashton go on to college later, especially if she does online courses, her experience with TXVA will make that transition seamless.”
Ashton is looking forward to her future, with hopes that music is a large part of it.
“My main goal is to do something that involves music,” Ashton said. “Whether that‘s being a songwriter for people or continuing to do my own music – anything that involves music, I want to be able to do it for a living.”