I will never forget the day I first brought home my violin when I was in fourth grade. Playing an instrument seemed so novel at the time that I enthusiastically opened the case and attempted to play it. While I had no idea how to even hold the violin or read music at the time, I still managed to try and play the first few exercises in the practice book that came with the instrument. After 45 minutes, I had already taught myself how to play a two note passage in the book. The excitement I had from teaching myself how to play even such a simple little song fueled me to keep on playing to this day.
As I began to play in the school music program, I was introduced to the string orchestra. I had never seen a group like it, and it was very fascinating to me. I was very excited to play in such a unique ensemble and began to practice for hours on end. While some students may have not enjoyed it at such a young age, I always enjoyed practicing and have found it so great that after even just a few minutes of slow intonation work, I could play music that earlier that day would not have assumed I could.
It was in middle school that I decided I wanted to do more with music than just take it a few times a week in school. I began to do other programs, including MYO and USDAN; both have provided me with growth as a musician and what seems like lifelong friends who share similar passions with me. I have also been extremely lucky to have such supportive teachers in all of my endeavors, from my middle school music teacher, who encouraged me to jump from level 2 to level 5 NYSSMA (a solo competition) in sixth grade to my first private teacher who helped me refine my technique, to the conductor of my MYO ensemble, where I have recently been named Concertmaster. Every person who has helped me while I learned to play has inspired me to further progress, and I cannot be more grateful for that.
Entering high school, I began to do even more to expand my appreciation for music. I first went to the Kinhaven Music School, a six week long summer camp in Vermont, where I
have made friends with musicians of such a high caliber that I am proud to collaborate with them. I was honored to work with many talented musicians, some members of professional orchestras, while others recognized as exceptional collegiate professors. It is through Kinhaven that I really started to appreciate classical music, which is not something that I would have ever have imagined myself doing as a fourth grader! In addition to Kinhaven, I also joined the New York Youth Symphony this year, where I have been awarded the honor of working with many virtuosic musicians, many being students of Juilliard and the Juilliard pre college.
This year I have went to New York’s All State festival, which hosted hundreds of high school musicians who have received the highest All State scores in the state. Going in, I did not know what to expect as far as how I would rank up with the others through auditions. I would have never have guessed that I would have been awarded with the prestigious distinction of being Principal Second Violin of the Symphony Orchestra! Next year, I hope I can do just as well as I did this year in the first violin section and be concertmaster, but I know I will just have to make sure I practice even harder than I ever have.
In the future, I plan to apply to many conservatories for music performance, but as far as I go I will always remember that Sachem was the first place that helped me find such a passion, and for that, I will always be thankful.
by Jake Buhler