Building connections through music

Junior Keegan Young creates emotion through his playing.

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Building connections through music

Junior Keegan Young plays his cello in the practice room  during lunch. He finds cello the best instrument to connect with people because its range resembles the human voice. Young finds it important to connect with people through his music and is always trying to find more ways to connect with the audience.

Junior Keegan Young plays his cello in the practice room during lunch. He finds cello the best instrument to connect with people because its range resembles the human voice. Young finds it important to connect with people through his music and is always trying to find more ways to connect with the audience.

Mercedes Mancilla

Junior Keegan Young plays his cello in the practice room during lunch. He finds cello the best instrument to connect with people because its range resembles the human voice. Young finds it important to connect with people through his music and is always trying to find more ways to connect with the audience.

Mercedes Mancilla

Mercedes Mancilla

Junior Keegan Young plays his cello in the practice room during lunch. He finds cello the best instrument to connect with people because its range resembles the human voice. Young finds it important to connect with people through his music and is always trying to find more ways to connect with the audience.

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Junior Keegan Young pulls down the endpin of his cello and the mood of the room changes. His hands glide over the neck and upon the tuning pegs as he starts plucking strings. The sound of sharp pizzicato echoes off the walls and the audience leans closer into the instrument just to feel the resonating sound of the cello. Young moves his ear down towards his cello and his facial expression becomes soft, content, yet focused.

Although Young has only started tuning, he captures the audience with just one note.

Young started orchestra at South Haven Public Schools, when he had the standard Meyer Music presentation where instruments are brought in and students get to try them out.  

Young had soon discovered why the cello was so intriguing.  

“I found that the cello was the best medium to be able to make a relationship with the audience,” Young said. “I believe that this is mostly because the cello sounds most like the human voice, or because [the cello] the easiest to emulate it with.”   

For the next seven years Young wanted to quit orchestra due to a lack of motivation. That was until he advanced to the high school orchestra and had more solo opportunities.  

Because he started taking lessons only a few years ago, he was behind most of his peers who started playing their instruments much earlier than Young did.

“[I caught up] through lots of embarrassment, dedication, a lot of playing the wrong things at rehearsals, lots of being told I wasn’t going anywhere, and hours upon hours of practice,” Young said.

Young is still worried that he is too far behind even though he has reached second chair in all three of the orchestras he’s played in.

“There are different tiers of musicianship and people who have been playing since they were young simply have more opportunities,” Young said. “In a way you can’t catch up, but I want to do the best that I can.”

Young is now in the Holland Youth Orchestra, the school orchestra and he did the Blue Lake International orchestra last year. He is also in chamber ensemble, GOTAK, and he plays in other smaller ensembles.

The Blue Lake International Orchestra performs a range of complete orchestral works while traveling around five to seven towns in Europe. Young says the experience had provided him with many lessons, not all of those relating to music.

“Blue Lake showed me that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was,” Young said. “[My experience there] taught me humility, how to be a leader and a teacher and that I should keep doing orchestra.”

Orchestra isn’t just playing beautiful music and looking elegant. It’s something that takes hours of practice everyday, it’s competitive, it’s painful, and it’s lonely.

“Almost all musicians are introverts,” Young said. “There are some like myself who really have to have human interaction. You can be locked in a room for five hours at a time, so it gets lonely sometimes.”

Orchestra has affected Young’s school life as well.

“There have been times when I haven’t done homework, because I’ve got three and a half hour rehearsals on Mondays,” Young said. “There’s not a lot of sleep going on either, I tend to practice later on at night because that’s when it’s easiest to be creative.”

Young had explained that because he wants to further his music career beyond high school he’s learning how to play the piano and violin. He said that in order for him to go to college and live off his music career, he’ll have to play more than one instrument.

“I suck at both [the piano and violin],” Young said. “I mean it’s hard, especially piano because your hands have to be independant to play any other instrument, but piano is something else it takes complete duality and control. I’m not great at either but it’s fun so I keep playing them.”

Melissa Meyers, Young’s orchestra teacher has seen him grow from a average cellist to the talented musician he is today.

“Keegan has a passion for the cello and [he] loves it,” Meyers said. “He also has a talent for it, so it’s interesting seeing him improve throughout the years. I hope he plays beyond high school because he obviously loves to be a part of music.”

For Young orchestra has become something that helps others process their emotions and experience new ones.

“[Connecting with the audience] is the hardest, but most important part when playing an instrument,” Young said. “That’s the main goal, so you can play something and give an experience to someone.”

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