Photo by Haley Bell
Q: How long have you been playing the viola?
A: “This is my eighth year playing. I started playing in fourth grade, quit in middle school and then rejoined halfway through eighth grade.”
Q: Why did you choose to play the viola?
A: “Everyone in fourth grade just chose an instrument, and my sister, Molly, was already playing the viola, so I just did that too.”
Q: Who has influenced you the most to continue to play?
A: “My sister definitely has because she played all the way through, but on top of that I have had some really great teachers. My first private teacher was from Czech Republic, and now I take from Jackie Lee who studied at the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute of Music. It’s kind of hard to just quit when I get taught by someone as legit as him. A lot of my drive comes from personal satisfaction of knowing that I am improving. It’s a great feeling when I perform a piece that I used to consider really difficult. Like when I was told that I was assigned to play the American Quartet at the Heartland Chamber Music Festival I was really excited because I had seen professionals play the piece a few years before and never imagined I would play it.”
Q: What is your favorite part about playing music?
A: “I really enjoy playing music in what is called chamber music. It is like playing alone with your own part, but it’s with three other people, which is a quartet. I refer chamber music because everyone in a group is held accountable for their own part. It forces the group to make whatever they are playing really polished. Chamber music is also usually played without a conductor so there is usually more room for interpretation and personality. It just feels more intimate.”
Q: What awards have you gotten throughout high school?
A: “ Last year I won districts and state, and I got an award from KMEA this year for making districts and state all three years I’ve been eligible. I was also nominated by our orchestra class for the Shooting Stars Scholarship Competition and I’m a finalist but unsure of the results. I’ve played in the Kansas City Youth Symphony Touring Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra which are the most selective groups and those are audition based.”
Q: Last year, you were the first seat at both districts and state, what does that mean?
A: “Everyone who plays in Kansas auditions, and they give you three excerpts and three scales to learn. For viola it’s the top 20 people. Then you have to audition again for state and chair placement. I felt a lot more pressure than I thought I would. The principal violist has to decide bowings, tell everyone how to split divided notes, and cue the section for entrances, which was a lot to handle. I missed an entrance last year at state and got absolutely roasted by the conductor. This year I got second at state and I was bitter at first, but then I realized I didn’t have all the responsibilities of being principal, which was really nice.”
Q: Do you ever feel pressure to continue playing the viola?
A: “Yeah I do a little bit, but at this point I’ve already tried so hard it would be pointless to quit. It takes up a good amount of time, except I don’t let it get in the way of other things. In a positive way I think it makes me more focused and helps me in school.”
Q: What are your plans for playing next year?
A: “I want to keep playing, maybe take some lessons, but depending on the amount of time it takes up. I already spend about 15 hours per week practicing and with college I’m not sure I will continue playing.”