Two TPHS students honored in music competition

Caden Jiang (11) and Eric Kim (11) performed with the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association’s High School Honors Symphony Orchestra in Orange County on Jan. 21 after a selective audition process. 

The SCSBOA is a non-profit organization that aims to provide young musicians with opportunities for development, including honors groups like the Honors Symphony Orchestra, and aiding schools with their music curriculum. 

Jiang, a violinist, and Kim, a violist, have played their instruments since elementary school. They are both section leaders in the TPHS Chamber Orchestra. 

“The best thing about music is getting to play with other people in an orchestra or in chamber groups—it’s a lot more fun than playing by yourself,” Jiang said.  

The students accepted into the High School Honors Symphony Orchestra, Jiang and Kim included, practiced their pieces for a month before convening in Orange County. Once there, they had two intense days of rehearsals and performed on the second night. The experience was unique because of the “really big difference in skill between the school orchestra and the All Southern orchestra” Kim said. 

“[The honors groups] are great because some schools have really good music programs and some schools are developing theirs, but those students who are playing at a higher level get the opportunity to play with other students at the same level,” TPHS music teacher Amy Gelb said. “There are university professors directing the ensemble so it gives the students a chance to work with higher level directors.” 

As a member of the SCSBOA who often volunteers to help with the performance and the audition process, Gelb encouraged her students to apply. 

The audition process required diligence and “recording many times to get the perfect excerpt,” according to Kim. 

Additionally, the use of a metronome and paying special attention to intonation were integral when practicing, according to Jiang. 

“I also listened to recordings of professionals playing [the excerpts] because it tells you what it’s supposed to sound like. It’s like you have an answer key to a study guide; you know what you’re supposed to do,” Jiang said. 

However, all the work put into practicing was time well spent. Beyond being able to play an instrument, studying music has many benefits, according to Gelb. 

“There’s a lot of lessons that help kids further themselves as students and people; [music] teaches great listening skills, how to work with others, leadership, time management and how to work towards a goal,” Gelb said.

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