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A Noteworthy Visit

A new museum expresses the soul of mankind through musical instruments.


Grace Song has a name that fits her ambitions perfectly.

Table of Contents

7 VIRTUOSO The story of Grace Song, a prodigious violinist at the top of a ceaseless tide of student competition found within the orchestra room.

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How one woman went from waitress to a professional guitarist and vocalist.



Music has always influenced the life and career of percussionist Wes Armstrong, who played the drums even after school.


MUST GROW ON As the style and structure of marching bands become more and more elaborate, this article provides an in-depth exploration of the evolution of marching band.


WORTHY VISIT A newly rising museum in Phoenix, Arizona speaks the universal language of music by collecting instruments from all across the globe. OPUS | 3

Meet the Musicians Olivia Brady

plays the trumpet, guitar, the piano and she also sings. She spends most of her time watching Netflix and playing music. If she was given the opportunity to learn a different instrument she wouldn’t because trumpet is the best. (But she might consider the saxophone or ukulele.) She enjoys swimming and volleyball.

Katie Shi

has been playing the piano since she was six. She enjoys listening to classical music, especially Chopin, Tchaikovsky (however you pronounce that) and Strauss II. If she could, she would learn how to play the harp. She likes cute, small succulent plants, especially the pincushion cactus. She is going to do cross country in the fall.

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Christina Winbigler

plays the flute, guitar, ukulele, and the piano. She also plays tennis! More importantly, she is switching from playing flute to trumpet next year, at least for marching band season. Christina is the Photoshop person of the group; her Photoshop art includes random pictures of unicorns and Charlie Sheen.

Anna Girardeau

has played the piano for nine years and the flute for four. She likes listening to pretty, melodic music. If she was given the opportunity to learn a new instrument she would learn the cello because the cello is a mellow instrument and she has never played a string instrument. She enjoys running.

Julia Bradley

plays the flute, saxophone, and the piano. She enjoys tennis and is going to do marching band as a trumpet player in the fall. Her spirit animal is a panda. She is the nicest person in the group. If she could play another instrument she would play the cello and not the mello.

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Letter from the Staff The Opus team first came together through a common passion for music. Each team member plays at least one instrument, including the flute and the trumpet, and everyone plays the piano. Naturally, we decided to create a music magazine to reflect and display the importance of various musical ensembles, especially those offered as classes at school. Music creates a bridge between reality and fantasy, and is the highest form of performance art. It is also a universal language that allows individuals to overcome differences and come to a mutual understanding. For Opus, we focus mostly on classical music, as that is emphasized in high school state-level orchestra, band, and choir. We hope this issue of Opus will engage and inspire amateurs and professionals alike, or that it will at least inform its readers. Sincerely, The Opus Team We would like to thank Grace Song, Wes Armstrong, Jeannie Robertson, Kim Shuttlesworth, Brian Frock, Carol Nelson and Colin Pearson for their time, patience and cooperation. Any photos not marked with photo credit are from Wikipedia under the Creative Commons license.

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Virtuoso Grace Song has a name that fits her

ambitions perfectly. By KATIE SHI

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race Song stood on stage, her fellow classmates behind her. As Susan Williams, Westwood High School’s orchestra director, conducted the school’s symphony orchestra, the solo violinist held the rapt attention of the audience. Her fingers flew up and down the fingerboard with the utmost ease, while her bow brushed through the strings with simple wrist flicks. She swayed slightly as she performed, a confident smile always on her lips. Clean, vibrant music filled the auditorium, and the audience remained spellbound the entire time. It’s rare to hear such powerful playing from an adult musician, let alone a teenager. For the past few years, there has been a surge of popularity in learning music as a hobby, especially that of the piano and violin. The level of competition amongst those in the music field is

startling; parents sacrifice time and money without hesitation, hoping their children will become the best of the class. In school, students vie for the top spots of each section, whether it’s in orchestra, band, or choir. Song, a junior at Westwood, has emerged as one of the best violinists of her generation. Song radiates the same warmth in person as she does on stage. With perfectly styled hair and an infectious smile, she seems more like a model than a musician. Yet at 16, she has the experience and maturity of someone much older. From an early age, she won numerous competitions and consistently earned top spots in the best student orchestras of the city

and state. Surprisingly, she didn’t begin her musical career with the violin. “I actually started piano first,” Song said. “My mom noticed that I had musical talent, so she decided to choose a second instrument for me to enhance my musicality.” She was four when she first learned to play the piano, and began taking violin lessons at age seven. “I kind of just went along with it at first, but I fell in love with it after I started.” Song, who had taken the typical route of those interested in music, was soon well-known both inside and outside of school as an exceptional violinist, and not just as a soloist. In 2010, she became the concert mistress

“[Performing with an orchestra] made me appreciate the composer’s intention and how he wanted to express himself through music.” —Grace Song

Grace Song plays with Westwood Symphony Orchestra. PHOTO COURTESY OF GRACE SONG

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of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Region 26 middle school orchestra, as well as the concert mistress of TMEA’s Region 26 high school orchestra three years later. She was also the concert mistress of Austin Youth Symphony Orchestra (AYSO) in 2013. “Performing with an orchestra made me realize how important each section in the orchestra is. It also made me appreciate the composer’s intention and how he wanted to express himself through music,” Song said. “It has taught me to take more leadership in my life, and being concert mistress for both region middle school and high school region has been an honor. I’ve been allowed to connect more to people with the same interests with me, and meet some amazing music directors.” Song has also been a member of TMEA’s All State symphony orchestra since 2012. She placed fifth chair this year, and traveled to San Antonio for the annual AllState concert with her fellow musicians. “It was phenomenal,” Song said. “We played ‘West Side Story’ by Bernstein and ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ by Ravel. Our conductor was such a great man, he was really into the music. Every musician in the orchestra was into the music, too, which made us sound a lot better than normal orchestras. In ‘Daphnis and Chloe,’ we even had a choir sing with the orchestra, which was a really cool feature to the piece. Everything was so theatrical, and it was just a once-in-alifetime experience.”

Grace Song performs solo. PHOTO COURTESY OF GRACE SONG

though she tries to practice bonded at Meadowmount Song devotes an immore if she can. She prefers even though we were forced measurable amount of time practicing in the afternoon. to practice at least seven perfecting her ability to play “[Practicing violin] really hours a day in our rooms the violin. In the summer of takes off the stress and lets which was horrible. But ev2013, she attended Meadme relax after a long day of owmount School of Music, a erybody had fun together...I classes,” Song said. “Westalso learned so many new seven week summer school wood is in West“Perfect practice makes perfect performance!” a really port, competiNew —Grace Song tive York school; designed teachers show no mercy for string musicians ages 9 to things from the teachers and towards their students. I have the weekly masterclasses, it 30 aiming for a professional to study and practice equally, career in music. really enhanced my perforwhich means I have to sacri“My experience at the mance strategies.” fice a lot of sleep and social Maintaining the delicate Meadowmount School of time with my friends outside Music is unforgettable,” Song balance between school and music has been one of Song’s of school.” said. “I met musicians from Song encourages others all over the world. I got to top priorities, especially now to get involved in music, that she’s in her third year meet new friends, and I got of high school. She typiespecially in orchestra. “Play to study with the best teachin an orchestra or play violin cally practices two hours a ers in the whole world. I not because you’re forced to, really liked how everybody day during the school week,

but because you want to play it with a passion to express music and to play with other people who enjoy music,” Song said. Song finds inspiration from YouTube, masterclasses and classical concerts. Her favorite composers are Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov, especially the former’s dramatic symphonies. She also listens to a variety of music outside of the classical genre, including rap, pop and Disney soundtracks. Her main ingredient for success, however, is more than just motivation. In fact, she offers classic advice. “Perfect practice makes perfect performance!”

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The The principal principal first first violin violin is is called called the the CONCERTMASTER, CONCERTMASTER, and and is is considered considered the the leader leader of of not not only only the the string string section, section, but but of of the the entire entire orchestra, orchestra, subordinate subordinate only only to to the the conductor. conductor. Most Most sections sections also also have have an an ASSISTANT ASSISTANT CONCERTMASTER/ CONCERTMASTER/ CONCERTMISTRESS CONCERTMISTRESS (or (or co-principal co-principal or or associate associate principal), principal), or or in in the the case case of of the the first first violins, violins, an an assistant assistant concertmaster, concertmaster, who who often often plays plays aa tutti tutti part part in in addiaddition tion to to replacing replacing the the principal principal in in his his or or her her absence. absence. In modern times, the musicians are usually directed by a CONDUCTOR.

The The STRING STRING section section is is composed composed of of violins, violins, violas, violas, cellos cellos and and basses. basses. The The vioviolins lins are are sometimes sometimes split split into into two two subsections, subsections, Violin Violin II and and Violin Violin II. II. There There are are an an average average of of 16 16 to to 30 30 violins violins total. total. The The viola viola section section is is situated situated between between those those of of the the violins violins and and cellos, cellos, and and is is made made of of 88 to to 12 12 violas. violas. There There are are typically typically 88 to to 12 12 cellos, cellos, while while the the bass bass section section has has 55 to to 88 players. players. There There are are usually usually 11 or or 22 harps harps behind behind the the violin violin section. section. SOURCE: PHOTO COURTESY OF DETROIT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

The BRASS section has anywhere from 2 to 8 horns, 2 to 5 trumpets, 2 Any of the instruments in the PERCUSSION section can include trombones, 1 bass trombone and 1 to 2 tubas. the timpani, snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, xylophone and more. The WOODWINDS are usually made up of flutes, oboes, clarinets, and bassoons, with two instruments in each section. There is also a single piccolo and a single contrabassoon.

The The orchestra orchestra isis an an intricately intricately structured structured instrument instrument ensemble. ensemble. The The term term ‘orchestra’ ‘orchestra’ derives derives from from the the name name for for the the area area in in front front of of an an ancient ancient Greek Greek stage stage reserved reserved for for the the Greek Greek chorus. chorus. High High school school orchestras orchestras are are usually usually composed composed of of string string instruments, instruments, though though students students from from band, band, orchestra orchestra and and choir choir can can compete compete or or perform perform together together as as aa single single ensemble ensemble (such (such as as the the TMEA TMEA All-State All-State Symphony Symphony Orchestra). Orchestra). Full-size Full-size orchestras orchestras (roughly (roughly 50 50 to to 100 100 musicians) musicians) have have string, string, brass, brass, and and woodwind woodwind sections, sections, and and sometimes sometimes aa percussion percussion section. section. The The number number of of players players in in an an orchestra orchestra depends depends on on its its concert concert repertoire. repertoire.

Anatomy of an

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The Show Must Grow On Marching band has evolved from a simple show to a work of art. By JULIA BRADLEY


hen most people think of marching bands they think of straight lines of instruments moving around in symmetrical patterns, blasting fight songs. What they don’t realize is that those marching bands are gone, replaced with stories told through intricate music, elaborate drill, bright flags and dancers, with props so large you need an 18 wheeler just to get to the football stadium. Over the years marching band shows have become very popular especially in states like Texas. Shows have become more elaborate, expensive, and require more time and commitment than ever. Every band is trying to differentiate themselves with the money and resources that are available to them. Marching band shows have changed in many ways over the years. They are more complicated, require more time commitment, and cost more than ever. “When I was in high school, drills were much more simplistic, and we were always symmetrical.” Austin High School band director, Brian Frock, said. “ What was on the left side of the 50 was almost always mirrored on the right of the 50 and marching style was much more traditional in style.”

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The Bowie mellophones blast their fight song at the start of the football game. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PANKRATZ

Many band directors agree that styles have become very theatrical over the years and it is very different than when they were in high school. “It went from, ‘I just really want to play this music,’ to almost having a production put on.” Bowie High School band director, Kim

Shuttlesworth, said. “Everything kind of has to streamline all the way through so the show is very understandable and relatable. So I think that evolution has changed a bit.” Almost every aspect of marching band has changed in some way or another. “There were percussion

features when I first started teaching but right now, the way the percussion section is a whole orchestra or band itself with the whole front ensemble and battery and percussion has become very sophisticated.” The McCallum band director, Carol Nelson, said. The cost of marching

“That’s the really cool thing about what we do in the arts is that we always have the possibility of trying something new.” —Shuttlesworth

“Band changes with the evolution of education and the evolution of art.” –Shuttlesworth band shows has also changed a lot over the years. “Austin High doesn’t put much money into our show compared to other programs around here, but the money we put into our show would have outfitted four years at my high school.” Frock said. “There are bands out there spending $10,000-15,000 just on music and drill. And then you add props to it, and colorguard flags, etcetera. So it gets to $20,000-30,000 just to put it on the field. It requires a lot more money to make a show look better now. “The fact that its so elaborate and there are a lot of props and things like that, there is a whole lot more money, having a show professionally written and arranged costs more.” Frock said. Marching band also requires much more time from students and teachers to put an entire show together. “It takes a lot more commitment out of the kids to do what we ask them to do now.” Frock said. “Kids are pulled in 50 different directions now a days to get into college and the competition that goes with that. When I was in high school we didn’t have those pressures.” There are many different reasons why marching bands have gotten so elaborate and most of them have also contributed to its rising popularity. Most directors think it is

because of the influence of professional marching band and huge football atmosphere. “As good as the football team is you really want the band to be that good too.” Shuttlesworth said. “It’s the largest audience and it’s the most relatable for someone who may not know anything about band, or a ton about music, but they understand that that is marching band.” With its huge atmosphere and large crowds, football has really helped marching band gain popularity over the years. “Because football is big the demand to have all those supporting groups cheerleaders, drill teams, bands, all those things,” Frock said, “Band has benefited from that because the crowd expects a good football environment and the football environment includes all those other groups.” The crowds have been very important in the rise of band. “It gathers the most amount of people so it creates the most buzz.” Shuttlesworth said. “You go to a football game and you put a show in front of an entire football crowd but also an entire band crowd.” Another thing that has influenced marching band and made it so complex are professional marching bands. Drum Corps International

is a huge network of professional marching bands all over the United States and Canada for students ranging 16-22 years old. “There has been a lot of influence of people that have Drum Corp experience. They go to college and major in music and its influenced the medium quite a bit.” Frock said. Students that participate in Drum Corps and then go on to direct marching band take that experience with them and use it in their own shows. “If you have ever been to a drum corps show live, the crowd is like being at a rock concert, the crowd is very enthusiastic and they literally will follow the corps all over the summer.” said Frock. “It’s a whole higher level of crowd involvement.” This new style has become very successful because it’s what people love to see. Even though most bands are becoming more theatrical they are all still

Trumpet player Kendall Brice preforms in her schools marching show. PHOTO BY JULIA BRADLEY

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very unique from each other. “Everyone has to find their own identity, and for some people that is telling really grand stories, for some it is creating really cool environments, and for others it is leaving question marks.” Shuttlesworth said. Different directors all try their own thing and think different things about this new style. “ I love theatricals. I like the product, its quite amazing to work on and to perform.” Nelson said. “I think it is very entertaining.” Other directors don’t embrace the new style as much. “I don’t like to go for huge theatrics and I try to avoid telling a grand story. I try to set an atmosphere of things.” Shuttlesworth said. To have better shows now requires bands to spend a lot of money on drill, music and props. “You can see the product from poorer schools or richer schools and who had the money and who bought the great drill, and who paid the money to have all the marching techs on the field to help their band.” Nelson said. “I wish that some how UIL could come up with a way to level the playing field.” Funding is a big problem for schools with less funding because their shows are much

Bowie brassplay to get the crowd excited about the football game. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PANKRATZ

more limited than schools who have money. “It is unfortunate when you are in a city like AISD and right next door is Westlake and they have a 3 grand staircase on the field. Could we do that? Sure, I just don’t have an 18 wheeler to pull.” Frock said. Marching band is always changing but that is what makes it exciting. “That’s the really cool thing about what we do in the arts is that we always have the possibility of trying something new. You know you can’t change what 2x+3y equals or whatever but you can change how the outcome of how some creative piece of work is going to be.” Shuttlesworth said.

Bowie Saxaphone players preform their halftime show. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PANKRATZ

“You can’t change what 2x+3y equals but you can change how the outcome of how some creative piece of work is going to be.” —Shuttlesworth 14 | OPUS

5 Easy Practice Tips


Musicians improve by practicing. Although it is hard to find a lot of time to practice your music, the most important thing is the quality of the practice. Here are some tips to maximize the positive effects of practicing your instrument.

1 2 3 4

Always warm up


Write on your music

Warming up prepares the muscles for the rest of your practice and allows you to focus on tone quality. Warming up may include scales, long tones, or other finger and tone exercises. It is a key part of practice and will set you up for success in the rest of your music.

Record Yourself

Recording yourself will let you hear your music from a different point of view. You might catch tempo or articulation problems that you didn’t notice when you were playing it. Making a recording will also get you into the mindset of performing.

Practicing at a slower speed

Practicing at a slower speed will allow you to be confident when performing the piece. It will secure fingerings and rhythms that you weren’t sure of or make fast passages very precise. You want to be able to play the piece almost perfectly at a slower tempo before making it faster.

Practice in sections

If you practice music line by line or a few measures at a time you are able to easily identify what you need to improve. You are able to focus on fixing a few things and master that one section. Practicing the one section over and over will ensure you play it correctly every time. Put the sections together when you are ready. Always have a pencil handy in case you need to write a reminder in your music. Writing things like dynamics, articulations, and accidentals will minimize the amount of mistakes you make. If you ever make a mistake make sure to mark it so that you don’t make the same mistake again. You don’t want silly mistakes to hinder your progress.

Sources: Australian Music Examinations Board, Classics for Kids, and The Musicians’ Blog

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Is music your child’s forte? Then send them over to Strings Music Camp for cultural instruments! Sign up for summer sessions in Austin, Texas at 42 Wallaby Way, next to and sponsered by Sydney’s Dentistry.

lol sucks fo u

They could be having this much fun!

A Noteworthy Visit A new museum expresses the soul of mankind through musical instruments.

By: Christina Winbigler

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any believe music is a universal language anyone can understand that celebrates the power and beauty of human culture. That it is heard in the voices in every nation, giving joy and voice to the human spirit. A rising museum speaks this language. “We highlight something important that both differentiates and unites the multitudes of humankind.” Colin Pearson, Curator of the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM), said. The idea of this museum came to be when the creator Robert J. Ulrich went on a trip to Brussels, Belgium and visited the Musical Instrument Museum there. But his idea was to put passion into work,

and gather instruments from all over the world to represents that country’s traditional music. It took many groups of people, and a team of people who could repair and maintain the instrument’s shape. It has now been described as walking into the soul of mankind. “When I first stepped into the museum, it was an enormous incomplete shell with absolutely no instruments on display. “Pearson said, “My first thought was to wonder, ‘How are we going to turn this into a museum?’” MIM is now a 200,000-square-foot building with two floors of spacious, light-filled galleries and a collection of more than 15,000 instruments. Built at a cost of $250 million, MIM in Phoenix, Ari-

“At MIM we are interested in celebrating the power of music to express the diversity and beauty of human culture.” —Colin Pearson zona submerges guests into traditions from all around the world. And all of the instruments are clear to see without the distraction of glass shielding them, making galleries have a nice open feel. “At MIM we are interested in celebrating the power of music to express the diversity and beauty of human culture.” Pearson said. At MIM, they have

galleries labeled by where the instruments come from. MIM’s Africa and Middle East exhibit has instruments from 70 different nations. They also have an artist gallery that features instruments owned and played by some world-renowned musicians, including the piano on which John Lennon composed the greatly significant song “Imagine,” a Gibson guitar owned by

This is the Turkey exhibit at MIM that represents the culture of Turkey. As you can see, it’s not covered by glass. This photo, as well as the cover photo, is coutesy of the MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM

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Eric Clapton, and a variety of instruments and artifacts that belonged to Elvis Presley. They also have a United States and Canada gallery, divided up by genre ranging from Sousa bands, to hip hop. MIM additionally has the Asia and Oceania, Europe, and Latin America galleries. “MIM’s experience also brings these instruments to life through technology that enables visitors to see and hear these instruments in their original cultural settings, like in no other museum in the world.” Pearson said, “We highlight something important that both differentiates and unites the multitudes of humankind.” Besides all the instruments in the galleries, there are video displays showing how the native people would play or make these instruments, and all guests get their own set of wireless headphones, so they can listen to every different instrument. And after the guests build up their appetite for music, they can conquer their craving by going to the Experience Gallery. This is where people of all ages can create the music they’ve been learning about all day. And not just guitars and drums, they have instruments from all over the world guests might only experience

once. In addition to those instruments, guests can play a Steinway piano in the lobby no matter what their selection is. Although all of the Instruments are very interesting, many gather at MIM’s extravagant theater. Here they have many different types of shows. Recently a band known as HAPA performed. This is a musical duo from Hawaii that makes hypnotic, liquid guitar runs woven around clear, tenor Hawaiian vocals. A group called Huun-Huur-Tu enchanted audiences all over the world with its distinctive throat singing, a style of overtone singing capable of producing two or three notes at the same time. MIM continues to inspire many people. They have an exhibit that’s all about Women Who Rock. With various types of clothing from different women rock stars. They are also having different women come in and perform to empower guests. The Battlefield Band will be performing soon, and is the gold standard for Scottish music, the band against which all others are measured. Inspired by their rich heritage and fueled by Scotland’s contemporary music scene,

Guests are able to play this old gong from China in the Experience gallery. PHOTO BY MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM

they have led the way for the last thirty years and are considered a national treasure. Tinariwen is yet another world influencing band. Their history of “desert blues” is deeply embedded with the conflicts that plagued the Tuareg people of the southern Sahara. It shows in the group’s hypnotic, politically charged music. They won the GRAMMY Award for Best World Music Album in 2011. Dorado Schmitt is a famous French guitarist and violinist. He has been described as the epitome of Gypsy jazz, and people

from everywhere are also very excited to come see him perform at MIM. There really is no other place like the Musical Instrument Museum. It’s full of too much wonder and song to even descrwibe. The musical Instrument Museum is truly the most amazing museum you will ever hear. “I could capitalize on my love of music, musical instruments, and culture in a way no other place could.” Pearson said, “I continue to find the constant process of learning and sharing knowledge through the museum stimulating and enjoyable.”

“I could capitalize on my love of music, musical instruments, and culture in a way no other place could.” —Colin Pearson 19 | OPUS

How to choose an instrument based on your personality Are you well put together? I frequently color code my notes

Why yes! And I contemplate the meaning of this judging insanity

I will watch the conductor so closely that I will witness his ageing


Violinists are usually a calm and steady people who like to play their instruments frequently. They tend to have very good grades and are hard workers. If you don’t want to play the violin, then I suggest the viola, cello, and various other string instruments. 20 | OPUS

Are you a bit shy?

Pffffft.. maybe... What does the word binder mean?

I wouldn’t say so!

Do you have a sophistication beyond the comprehension of normal humans?

Wanna make neverending smooth jazz?

Haha... nope

How focused are you? I like to goof off a little


Flutists are similar to people who enjoy orchestra, except they are a little less focused and love fast music. They are usually quiet, and love to learn. If you don’t want to play the flute, other options include the clarinet, saxophone, oboe, or other woodwinds. But flutists are mostly known to only be able to play the flute because it’s so different.

If I had to, I guess I could make elevater music

Jazz is awesome!


Saxophonists don’t have to play jazz necessarily, but people love the way it sounds. They usually are pretty chill, fun people. If you don’t want to play any of the many versions of saxophone, I suggest clarinet if you want to play a reed instrument, or trumpet if you want to play it for jazz music.

START Will you let a director get in the way of your mojo? YES

He/She seems like a nice guy, I’ll let it slide.

That’s the most boring thing I’ve ever heard

Are you super mellow and just want to make some music?

Yeah man... This is a legit chart


Guitarrists are usually very calm, easy-going people. They become easily obsessed with the guitar, and will spend hours at a time figuring out how to play a song. If you don’t want to play the instrument, I suggest the ukulele, banjo, bass or the generic piano


Having a hard time picking which instrument to play? When playing an instrument, you need to enjoy what you’re playing, so it’s important to pick an instrument that suits you personally. Consult the flowchart of instruments, and pick an instrument that is close to the one you get!

How short is your attention span?

Hell naw, I can teach myself.

My mind is a curvaceous bundle of knowledge (sometimes). Wait.... What? Ugh... Too much energy

I enjoy driving people insane


Percussionists are best known for having very good rhythm and love making beats. They usually are a social, fun people. If you don’t want to play in percussion, I suggest the generic piano, any brass instrument, or maybe try dancing.

Do you make beats on everything you touch?



Trumpet players are easily bored during practice time, and don’t focus. But they always come through in the end. Though they don’t like practicing, they are still very social, fun people! If you don’t want to play the trumpet, I suggest most other brass intruments or percussion. Source: LBJ/LASA Band

OPUS | 21

Linda Weyn, concert violist with the

NEW AUSTIN SYMPHONY Featuring the music of A. Dvorak June 31, 2014 at the Short Center 3 pm | 7 pm | 10 pm Details at

Periods of Music

Throughout musical history, there have been many different periods of music classified by different characteristics and composers. There are categories divided chronologically into the periods of music. Each period has a distinct sound and style. Because there are no exact dates for the periods of music, some composers belong in more than one period. Here is a look at the different time periods of music. By OLIVIA BRADY

Medieval Period 500-1400 AD

While art and other records show that musical life was very rich in the Medieval period, very little of the actual music has survived. The only repertory of music that has survived from this time period is music of the Roman Catholic Church, most of which is a genre called Gregorian Chant.

Renaissance Period 1400-1600 AD

Renaissance music started in northern Europe and spread to the rest of Europe by the middle of the 15th century. The invention of printing greatly impacted music and allowed it to be spread father throughout Europe and create a truly international style.

Baroque Period 1600-1760

In the Baroque period, instrumental music became the most dominant. Many songs from the Baroque period were written for improvisation. The three most famous composers from this time were Bach, Handel and Vivaldi.

Classical Period 1730-1820

Forms of music such as the sonata, the symphony, and the concerto were made dominant, along with an obvious melody with accompaniment. Some of the most famous composers of this period include Mozart and Beethoven.

Romantic Period 1815-1910

Music with more expression and emotion began to replace the formal and rigid styles of the Classical period. Composers used more elaborate chords and dissonance to create more emotional pieces. The most famous composers of this time are Chopin, Liszt and Schumann.

Impressionist Period late 19th Century-early 20th Century

Toward the end of the Romantic period a new style known as “Impressionism� began to appear. Impressionism is characterized by mystery and wonder. Debussy is one of the main composers of the Impressionist period.

Sources:;; shows/collections.asp

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Harmonic Introducing the all-new HARMONIC 6000.


Drumming through Life

Music has been part of Wes Armstrong’s life as early as he can remember and it continues to inspire him today. By ANNA GIRARDEAU

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hen Wes Armstrong opened his present on Christmas day in the fourth grade he received his first drum set. He put his headphones on and played along loudly to the Foo Fighters with his parents listening in the background. He had no idea what he was doing, but he has loved it ever since. “I can’t see a time in my life where music isn’t a huge part of me. My biggest fear is that for some reason I can no longer play, listen to, or enjoy music.” Armstrong said. Armstrong is a musician who currently plays the drums in the band Edison Chair. Edison Chair has a full length self-produced album, and an EP produced by Matt Noveskey who is a bass player for Blue October. They are both for sale at Waterloo Records and on iTunes or

“My goal as a musician is to always be learning and growing.”—Wes Armstrong Spotify. Music influenced him as a child and still does everywhere he goes. “Music is a huge part of my everyday life,” Armstrong said. “I’m almost always listening to something or someone new.” Some of Armstrong’s first introductions to music were from his family. He was surrounded by music as a child and loved going to his sister’s middle school band concerts. “As early as I can remember I was singing along to Motown and classic rock music my parents played. I’ve always had a love of catchy pop melodies. I was fortunate enough to have an older sister that gave me Beatles cd’s to listen to, and

confiscated all of my Creed CD’s” Armstrong said. When Armstrong was 6 years old he watched a movie about a rock band in the 60’s and the main character was a drummer. This was the first time he thought playing drums was cool. “I begged my parents for a drum set, but they made me take piano lessons for 3 years first,” Armstrong said. “I think they were surprised that I stuck with it. I had a great piano teacher, but I was too young to care or know how hard it is to be a good musician.” Armstrong got his first drum set in fourth grade and continued to play as he got older. His parents always supported him even when he

Wes Armstrong (third from the left) poses for a photo with his fellow band members to promote Edison Chair. PHOTO BY HOLLY AKER

26 | OPUS

first started and had no idea what he was doing. By the time he was in high school he knew that he wanted to become a band director. “I loved teaching, concert music, and being part of something bigger than myself.” Armstrong said. At the end of freshman year Armstrong joined Edison Chair and although he never became a band director, he had continued to be involved in music in other ways. “ By the time I was a junior I knew I wanted to play music professionally. The how changed, but never the what.” Armstrong has had many experiences as a member of Edison Chair and played at many different venues including The Parish, Antones, Emo’s , Austin Music Hall, The Continental Club, The Saxon Pub, Austin’s New Year at Auditorium Shores and others. “I’ve gotten to meet a lot of talented people and play at a lot of cool venues and I feel very thankful and fortunate,” Armstrong said. Armstrong has always loved hanging, out with his band, and rehearsing. “I love performing. I used to make my parents sit down and watch as I attempted to play drums, or sing a song,” Armstrong said. “I was terrible, but they were nice and encouraging. I love

to put on a show, and I love doing it as part of a group.” Edison Chair is like his family. “When we get to play a show it isn’t work, it’s a joy,” Armstrong said. “Showing people your personal work can be really hard and embarrassing, but these groups I’m in are judgment free and encouraging.” Music is a huge part of Armstrong’s everyday life. When work, school, and music is all combined, his life is pretty busy. “I’m almost always listening to something or someone new. My week usually consists of balancing rehearsals, writing sessions, jamming with new people and writing on my own,” Armstrong said. Although being in a band and enjoying music is so time consuming, Armstrong knows he wants to be part of it for a long time. He can’t see a time in his life where music is not a huge part of him. “My biggest fear is that for some reason I can no longer play, listen to, or enjoy music.” Armstrong said. Many musicians influence Armstrong and help him expand his own music. One of his biggest inspirations are the Beatles as a group and individually. “John Lennon and

Edison Chair plays at an event at Auditorium Shores for the 2013 Austin New Year event. PHOTO BY JULIO MORENO

everything he stood for, Paul McCartney because he’s a gift to us and understands pop music so well, George Harrison for writing one of the greatest albums of all time (All Things Must Pass), and Ringo for teaching me to play drums that fit the song,” Armstrong said. “It’s about taste, not how much you can play.” His other influences include Stevie Wonder and Jim James of My Morning Jacket. “They can express what they see and feel so perfectly through music,” Armstrong said. “There’s no doubt or question about what they’re saying.” Armstrong enjoys

listening to a lot of different music. He loves The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Kinks, The Animals, The Beach Boys and The Band, but he has been expanding to different types. He listens to a mixture of music that different people have recommend to him. This allows Armstrong to be exposed to music he isn’t used to and influence him in other ways. “I’m never bored, and I can see all this new music reflected in my own writing. It’s hard to narrow down what type of music I’m interested in but I’ll say its good songwriting,” Armstrong said. “Great songs are timeless just like great art. I love anything

“Music only stops when you do, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.”—Wes Armstrong

honest.” Armstrong strives for people to see honesty in his own music. “My life dream is to write a song that is someone else’s favorite song,” Armstrong said. “Writing is hard, but the moment I stopped trying to be clever or think of harder words and just write what I was feeling or thinking, my work grew and got a lot better.” Eventually Armstrong wants to become a producer and help other artists bring out the best in their music, but right now his goals as a musician are to be learning and growing. Recently, he has expanded to playing piano and guitar. “I’m working on rounding myself out,” Armstrong said. “Music only stops when you do, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.”

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Should I join marching band? What kind of instrument do you play?

Marching band is a great way to play fun music, make friends, and be part of a community, but marching band is not a good fit for everyone. Is it right for you?

String instrument, double reeded instrument, or french horn.

Marching band can be extremely fun but sometimes it requires doing quirky things that you might find embarrassing. Even if you are more of an introvert you are in a big group that is there to support you. It can also be a good way to open up and make new friends.

Brass, woodwinds (excluding double reeded instruments), or percussion

Do you play sports in the fall? Yes.

Ya, I’m willing to get up there and make a fool of myself every now and then.

Not really, I’m more of an introvert.

None of these instruments are used in marching band, however, french horn players often switch to mellophone, and you can always learn a second instrument.


Fall sports make it harder to do marching band. If you can manage your time effectively then you should be able to find time but marching band requires a lot of commitment which is difficult with other sports and activities.

Are you willing to embarrass yourself a little? Yes! I enjoy doing activities outside and spending time in the sun.

Join marching band!

Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? No, I prefer indoor activities and I

Do you consider yourself a disciplined person? Yes, I’m pretty good at following directions

don’t really like the heat. Marching band starts in the summer and requires a significant amount of time outdoors. Because it is in the summer it can also get very hot, especially in states like Texas. The heat is definitely a factor to take in before joining marching band. Source: LBJ marching band


Not really, I prefer to do my own thing. Marching band might not be the best choice for you, everyone in band must work well together so the band can be successful. This requires everyone to be willing to do what the director says to work as a team. Marching band can be extremely fun and goofy but you have to be able to pull yourself together to get things done.

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From Low to Pro

Throughout her career, Jeannie Robertson has lived a life full of music and inspiration.



he lights flashing, the thunderous music ripping through the screaming crowd. This is typically what people picture when they think of a professional musician, but the truth may be less glamorous. Most musicians typically aren’t famous or rich, but they still love what they do. “We didn’t make a ton of money, and it was worth it, it’s not a complaint at all, it was a choice. But a lot of people would view that as a sacrifice.” Jeannie Robertson said. Robertson is a professional musician who used to travel from city to city performing songs written by her and her husband, David Ruthstrom. Robertson had a very successful musical career that started with music in the family. “In my family we entertained ourselves by singing,” Robertson said. “It was part of our family tradition. We would all gather out on the

porch and sing songs, so I really sang before I talked.” Robertson said that music was very influential in her life, especially within her family. Music brought them together. “When I was a kid, it gave my family a connection.,” Robertson said. “When we did something, it was more than just a good time, it was a memory, So for my family, music bonded us and still binds us.” Although Robertson loved music, she didn’t think she would end up being a professional musician. “I always knew music was my favorite thing, but I didn’t think I could make a living at it until I met my husband,” Robertson said. “He was a performer and I was a waitress when I was attending UT. He and his bass player came to perform at the restaurant I was working at. I hadn’t ever met someone who wasn’t a star with a big recording contract who made a living making music. That

“I always knew music was my favorite thing.” -Jeannie Robertson

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was a revelation for me.” Robertson’s career began through her relationship with David. “My relationship with David had grown, so I went on the road with him,” Robertson said. “We put our musical duo together at that point.” While being a musician can be very rewarding, it requires sacrifices in order to be successful. Long hours and low pay are just a few of

the sacrifices necessary. “For me, that sacrifice was taking this huge chance and leaving behind my family and my friends, and saying yeah, I’m just gonna dive in headlong and take a risk,“ Robertson said. “I would say that it was a bigger personal risk than a professional risk.” Robertson knew the risks and the challenges she would have to overcome. “I was plugging into someone else’s career and

Jeannie Roberston and her husband David Ruthstrom pose for a picture for promotional posters and flyers. PHOTO COURTESTY OF JEANNIE ROBERTSON

so that had a different set of challenges,” Robertson said. “Those who had to start from scratch get to define themselves, but that wasn’t what I did.” She felt like an outsider at first, trying to fit in with the fan base. It took a while to establish themselves and figure out what they wanted as a group. “I never expected to have this life,” Robertson said. “It wasn’t what was normal. But I got to see the world in a way I never would have.” Robertson’s career took her all over the country, and affected every part of her life. “Music allowed us to live in Alaska, and to have a house. I never would have met my husband without music...Music has impacted every facet of my life from childhood to now.” Like most people, Robertson had terrible stage fright that took her a long time to get over. “In the early years, it was a big accomplishment to get over nerves. Just to be able to get up there and sing without being scared... And it was hard at first.” Robertson also had many goals as a young musician. “ I realized that if I were going to become successful at this, I couldn’t be a “girl guitar player” [just ok at playing guitar],” Robertson said. “It was a big accomplishment to become stage-worthy on the guitar and not just sing harmonies.” Robertson has accom-

plished many things that are important to her. “Learning how to use the studio was a big accomplishment because the studio equipment wasn’t easy. The microphones pick up everything,” Robertson said. “Every breath, every squeak, every ding, every imperfection and its really hard to allow yourself to grow from that...If you focus too much on every little thing, then the music gets lost in all of that.” Along with learning how to use the studio, Robertson also learned what success was to her. “I think that’s one of our greatest accomplishments: learning what real success is. And real success is getting to do what you really love to do and survive it,” Robertson said. “Because there are so many people out there who are in jobs they really hate, for the money, or striving for fame and fortune, instead of just doing what they love. And we were able to survive for many years doing what we loved.” Robertson believes there are many things that contribute to a musician’s success, but she stresses how important it is to define yourself and figure out who you want to be as a musician. “ I think that is really important to define yourself early in your career. If you’re a young musician in Austin,

Jeannie Robertson and her husband, David Ruthstrom, are enjoying themselves in New Mexico while promoting their tour. PHOTO COURTESY OF JEANNIE ROBERTSON

you need to get really good. If you want to make a living of this, and make it, you have to get really really good. Do whatever you can to get bet-

most, then you have to put in the work. And you have to want to do. Because you can’t be forced to do it. You won’t survive in the musical business if you don’t love to play.” She said. Robertson is a person who is completely committed to music. She loves performing, and will never stop singing and playing music. “There is nothing I would rather do than be involved in music. I love singing with other people, that is the most fun for me and it needs to be that way if you’re gonna make it. Otherwise it’ll burn you out.”

“There is nothing I would rather do than be involved with music.” -Jeannie Robertson ter.”

She also believes young musicians should be very honest with themselves and their own needs. “It’s not easy to do that,” Robertson said. “But if it’s really what make you happy, and it’s what you love the

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The New Austin Symphony JUNE 31, 2014 THE SHORT CENTER


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