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AHS Orchestras Student Named Valedictorian

For the second year in a row, the Arcadia High School Valedictorian has been a member of our Orchestra program. This year, our own Braden Wong was named Valedictorian. We decided to do a brief interview with him, asking him about his experience with Orchestra.

The Interview

What does being in orchestra mean to you?

Relaxation. Orchestra is an amazing break from academics that also challenges my brain and improves my cognitive ability. Playing an instrument is a great way to have fun without upsetting your parents (unlike playing video games :)).

What are your favorite memories of being in orchestra?

During Finals week, Matthew, Kelman, Peter, and I spent passing period in the practice room playing and singing Christmas Carols. It was loud. It was out of tune. But it was so epic. Most of my favorite memories were moments like these, goofing off and having fun with friends.

How has being in orchestra affected your life?

I really enjoy disciplines where making tangible improvement is straightforward. Playing an instrument is one of those few disciplines. If you practice diligently, you will get better. It is very rare to find professions in the real world where this relationship between effort and output is so simple. Playing an instrument is a great reminder to me that I can make progress even if I feel stuck.

Do you think being in orchestra helped you succeed? How?

Yes; orchestra helped me conquer stage fright. As funny as it seems, I always get a little nervous before performing in front of a crowd. It’s very relaxing to be surrounded by so many talented musicians and know that they have your back.

Why should students take orchestra at AHS?

If you are interested in community, outstanding field trips, or already play an instrument, orchestra is a no-brainer. Orchestra will provide you with so many great memories.

What advice do you have for underclassmen?

Learn how to practice. You will learn the fastest when under cognitive stress that forces you to adapt. Impose rules so that repetition is different every time (i.e. change to dotted rhythms, play bow/right hand only, slow down). This will greatly enhance your ability to make connections compared to simply repeating the same thing over and over.

Most importantly, find a way to make playing fun. Understand why you are playing. Even if you are planning to become a professional musician, orchestra should not be the most stressful activity in your life (if it is, trust me, it shouldn’t be for long). Practicing is an easy way to disconnect and if you view it this way, practicing can be incredibly fun and rewarding.

We'd like to give a huge congrats again to Braden Wong, and thank him for taking his time to do this interview with us. We are proud to have had him as a part of our Orchestra family along his journey, and can't wait to see what exciting things he does in his future!

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