School shutdown leaves some musicians without a stage

‘I’m just trying to keep a positive note,’ one student said

Series: Coronavirus | Story 67

Last updated 4/20/2020 at 1:21pm

Nobody thought their last day of school was going to be in March, but for Mill Creek students and many others statewide, it would be the last time they would walk through the doors this school year. 

At first, it seemed like it would be a long break and some events would be postponed, including musical performances and competitions. However, as the days went on, it turned out to be the end of the school year and the end of the road for some high school musicians. 

One of those competitions was the Washington Music Educators Association State Solo and Ensemble Contest, a major competition for high school musicians. Its website still says its postponed, but multiple students told the Beacon it had since been canceled. 

“I was pretty disappointed because we’ve been working hard for the past few months for this, and this year we won in our district and were going to state for the first time in four years,” Katelyn Oliver, a senior from Glacier Peak High School, said. 

Oliver plays percussion instruments and will be going to Brigham Young University-Hawaii in the fall to study music. Her favorite instrument is the marimba. 

“I’m just trying to keep a positive note. This year we weren’t even able to play a single drumline festival so we’ve been working for over a year on music that we haven’t been able to show anyone.” 

She said her ensemble was still working on music (alone – Zoom meetings can be difficult because of delay) to potentially perform for their parents this summer if they’re able to meet.

Taylor Wight is also a senior at Glacier Peak High School and sings in the choir. She also hasn’t performed her piece, “Steal Me, Sweet Thief” by Jean Carlo Menotti, for anybody. 

“I was a little disappointed, but then again I totally understand the circumstances – it’s just very unfortunate,” she said of her reaction to the school shutdown. It would have been her first year as a competitor at the WMEA competition. 

“I’ve been able to do Zoom meetings with my voice teacher but its definitely not the same.” She plans to go to Washington State University in the fall to eventually enroll in a veterinary program and may continue to do music on the side. 

“(The shutdown) is definitely a blessing in disguise to be able to spend more time with my family before I leave and head off,” Wight said. 

Kayla Shin, a freshman at Jackson High School, made it to the state level is two separate ensembles and was accepted to the All-State Orchestra; she plays the viola. She was first chair, meaning her audition was the best in the state, according to her teacher, Melanie West. 

“When the competition was canceled, I was really upset about it because I’d been looking forward to it for a couple of months and it was my first time going,” Shin said. “I’m going to try again next year.” 

April Lee, a sophomore at Jackson High School, also would have gone to the state competition after winning in previous judging for violin. She had mixed feelings about the competition being postponed. 

“I was a little disappointed, but also I was really nervous for it. I have mixed feelings,” Lee said. “The whole piece is about five to six pages, and I’ve only learned about three of the pages, and I was starting to learn the rest of that.”

She said she was shocked that her school has been closed until the end of the year. “I think it’s just crazy to think about I’ll be a junior next year, and it just went by so fast. None of us knew that the last day would actually be the last day of the year.” 

Oliver summarized well what many of the other students said. 

“The hardest part is that we may not be able to say goodbye to everybody in the way we wanted to. So it’s just disappointing. It’s not even about the school being closed itself, it’s the part that it’s over before we knew it. You really just gain perspective; every day could be your last day with someone, so you really need to enjoy it and make the most of it.”



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