Nika STROK UNDERWOOD, 14 years old, was born to a Croatian mother and English father, and is the youngest of four children, therefore loved and adored by everyone Presently with parents living in France during academic year, Nika started with her official piano education only as recently as February 2018.
Her professor, Ms Raminta has finally arrived and immediately saw Nika was talented. This meant the whole world to Nika and she is the happiest person to be able to learn from Prof. Raminta Neverdauskaité who pushed her from a beginners level to do exams in front of a commission of many professionals to pass straight to cycle 2 in Solfeggio and Piano, with which she made a jump of 3-5 years at the very least. This year Nika has finished 1st year of the 2nd cycle.
In this short time Nika has participated in five competitions, three of international standing and two French nationals:
Nika is a native speaker of three languages – Croatian, English and French, and also now learning Italian and German – and always smiling with a sunlit passion for fun and play. She loves nature and everything about it, enjoys drama, horse-riding, free-diving, photography, fossil hunting, mushroom hunting and loves exploring heritage of all environments and countries whilst travelling with her parents. Nika also enjoys an unlikely mix of ballet and judo, contemporary dance as well as folk dancing, ice-skating, artistic roller-skating, inline skating too, skiing ,handball, swimming, baking and “caking”, and enjoys school a lot, especially math and science. Music is great love, being, living. Nika also plays classical guitar, little bit xylophone and percussions, she sings and has also participated in a musical in production and unique representation of Agnès Brosset’s “The Jungle” in Pontivy, Bretagne, France. Piano though is Nika’s greatest love and passion!
Nika has completed her GCSE exams in summer 2021 and has since then completed three A-level subjects this summer (2022), French, Geology and Latin.
Nika has joined Minerva Virtual Academy, where she will study eight more A-levels over the coming two years. Minerva Virtual Academy seems to have the perfect approach for Nika, small classes and online, allowing her to pursue all her passions. Nika will be taking Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Literature, English Language, Maths, and Music in summer 2024. Therefore, she will be ready to enter Cambridge University with 11 A-levels in 2024.
Although Nika will be ready for university at the age of just 16 having completed 11 A-level subjects since Cambridge is her final choice she will have to wait until she is at least nearly 18, due to their rules. However, Nika is very much determined to keep at her studies while adding more practical experiences during this time and dedicate much more of her time to her piano with joy and full dedication.
Nika, the Pandemic & lockdowns
First lockdown and realisation of pandemics caught Nika, on her way back from Tenerife, Vienna, Krapina concerts and competitions tour. So, we got stuck! Not too bad, we just arrived on our island, with enough to survive and do things from ‘home’.
So, Nika decided, she will do home-schooling and take her GCSEs early to be able to apply herself as soon as possible; “ and schools are so boring and slow”, she stated.
Her parents supported her as always, soon after she added 3 A-level subjects to sit in spring 2021 along with 12 GCSEs subjects, and 4 Trinity college exams (music theory Grade 8, piano Grade 8, classic guitar Grade 7, Solo singing Grade 6) and also RAD exam Grade 8.
Therefore, Nika’s educational curve went straight up. Private classes online were arranged for all subjects, we even made a dancing studio in the hallway downstairs. Nika is happier and more accomplished than ever before, striving to the exams being finished aiming for A*s (grade 9 nowadays). And hardly able to wait to go uni early, which we soon found out she wanted for years back 😊. All her professors, teachers are expecting her to receive grade 9 in her subjects.
Unfortunately, the government cancelled all the state GCSE and A-level exams. We were fearing Nika would be extremely disappointed, but Nika stays confident, active and writes to the government requesting to allow all private candidates to sit exams this autumn, being advised by her Latin teacher who actually entered her for the Latin exam through her school, which is one subjects that will be done this spring. Spirits up and she continues.
We will soon be releasing recordings of Nika’s new piano repertoire featuring all 3 movements of Beethoven’s “Pathetique Sonata,” Mozart’s “ Fantaisie”, Chopin’s Nocturne in Sharp Minor and a few others, we will also be publishing some new singing & guitar pieces.
Nika finally began to work with her favourite piano professor which is paying off very nicely.
At the very start of the pandemics in Europe, Nika became aware of a project on the Croatian island of Murter and decided to donate her translating to that local project. The island was completely cut off from the rest of the world, as they had many SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 cases. This project was aimed to make it easier on children of the island and the work of the author, Martina Markov, who came up with a great idea to make a series of children stories happening in Croatian National parks, teaching them about the flora and fauna of each park.
Brilliant idea and project Nika recognised immediately.
Nika has done a tremendous job translating the whole “our picture book” (the island covid story) into English and French. Learning old Dalmatian words and expressions, she was quite literally working day and night to get it done quick and well. To those who haven’t done an official translating, this might not sound as big of a deal as it, really is, but believe me, it’s a really big thing especially for a 12-year-old child, but Nika did it with a smile on her face, working very hard. And the book has been published, English and French are available online.
Nika was completely involved with doing whatever possible to raise awareness of the need for the app and spread the love for sharks amongst people, and taught her peers that rays also belong to the Shark family.
Nika also made two robots, both with many functions, for example rock, paper, scissor
There’s another little skill Nika has learnt during these difficult times, which is how to crochet. She went even further and learnt how to do amigurumi and she started a lovely little production of amigurumi/crochet toys.
There are many other ways Nika stayed fully active even during the pandemics time and Nika continues to smile and can’t wait to start actively applying herself to projects aimed at making this planet a better place for us all. For that, she says she has to earn her two degrees ( piano/music degree and science (biology/palaeontology degree).
Lastly, a few days ago she started a blog, with a plan and idea she wanted to do for a few years now as a present for Sirs David Attenborough’s birthday. Please see Nika’s blog here.
It’s difficult to describe Nika’s life of smiles and interest so we have tried to put summary of her life and interest in the photo gallery below.