Practicing towards perfection

Music students spend a great deal of time practicing their craft, ensuring the melodies they produce sound as close to perfect to their listeners.
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Practicing towards perfection

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Kaylee Pryble, Staff Writer

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They say practice makes perfect, and the Hoffman Estates High School music students are definitely practicing towards perfection.

“I originally started on the piano and took classical lessons, but it personally wasn’t my thing,” said senior Grant Le. “What really got me interested in music was playing in my middle school jazz band.”

For Le, practicing bass has become a part of his daily life. Le is a part of the HEHS Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Jazz Ensemble, accompaniment to the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Madrigal Troupe Recorders, and has been a part of the ILMEA Honors Jazz Combo, as well as being a students of the Merit School of Music in Chicago and playing in various jazz and improvised music ensembles throughout the Chicagoland area.

In addition to the various groups he’s involved with, Le practices at least an hour a day, however he takes breaks from this intense practicing on weekends.

Le is not the only well-rounded musician at HEHS, sophomore Andrew Luzwick is another such student. Luzwick plays piano, bass and soprano clarinet, flute, alto, tenor, baritone, and soprano saxophone, guitar, bass, ukulele, and sings, playing in the HEHS Band, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Choir, Madrigals, and Shades of Blue.

“I grew up in a very musical family… and I wanted to be just like them,” said Luzwick. “Growing up doing dance and musical theater also got me into [music] at a really young age.”

“My parents always took me to see the nutcracker when I was a kid,” said senior violist Christina Wood. “I listened to the music year-round and fell in love with the strings. When the teachers asked what we wanted to play in fourth grade, I would settle for nothing else except violin.”

Every musician has a different way of practicing that has been shaped by their teachers, their own experiences, and other musical influences in their lives. The way they practice helps contribute to their musical success.

“The hardest balance I’ve tried to achieve is the balance between time and efficiency,” said Le. “You can claim to spend four hours a day practicing, but that number means nothing is you’re just sitting there messing around on your instrument with no sense of diligence and direction. Trying to learn how to get the most done in the least amount of time without sacrificing quality is extremely difficult in any situation.”

Senior Cindy Guzman has been playing clarinet for eight years, as well as bass clarinet for the past three, typically practicing around two hours a day. Guzman is a part of the HEHS Symphonic Winds, Symphony Orchestra, and the D211 Honors Band.

“I enjoy the fact that everyone comes together into an ensemble and works together to create a wonderful piece,” said Guzman. “I love the challenge of having to multitask between looking at the conductor, the music, and playing the right notes, all while balancing within the ensemble.”

For musicians, the way they practice can often change over time. From when they first start, how they practice changes, shaping them to be better, more advanced musicians.

“Every day I find new ways to practice things in ways that save time while still allowing for the development of a solid fundamental foundation,” said Le. “I’m always trying to find ways to practice several things at once.”

“When I start practicing, I always warm up with a scale,” said senior Christina Wood. “I then play through a whole piece and break it down into sections with trouble spots I need to work on.”

“Practice is a relative word,” said senior Gavin McMullen. “I can think about the music more than I play it but it can still be considered a form of practice. You don’t always have to pick up your instrument or use your voice to practice.

McMullen is a member of the HEHS Concert Choir and Madrigals, as well as a few various other small groups. McMullen plays mandolin, piano, bass, bodhran (Irish frame drum), tin whistle, cello, bouzki (Greek or Irish instrument similar to a mandolin), guitar, and sings.

Focus while rehearsing and practice while preparing a piece can also change as musicians get older and as their interest in music grows. A love of music can lead them to put more attentiveness into their playing, which only grows as the musician gets older and more experienced.

“When I was younger I would practice the easy parts first because I liked knowing I was good at certain parts, but that never helped me to improve,” said Guzman. “Now I know that’s not the case and I need to focus more to improve on my abilities, not just so I look good and feel confident on the simple things.”

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