While Signal Mountain Middle School eighth-grader Elizabeth Webb has been playing the violin since kindergarten, she only recently had her first opportunity to play with a full orchestra.
Elizabeth is the first member of the SMMHS strings program, currently in its first year, to be selected to participate in the East Tennessee State Band and Orchestra Association's Lower Area Junior Orchestra Clinic.
"I've been playing solo my whole life, without an orchestra or other instruments," said Elizabeth. "It was my first time playing with a group."
Clinic participants are seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders from the Chattanooga area who complete a blind audition.
During the audition Elizabeth played several excerpts from "Arlington Sketches," a piece she was given beforehand, as well as another selection to play by sight.
Musicians selected to participate are placed in the lower-level red group or more advanced blue group, said Alex Walker, Elizabeth's violin teacher.
Out of around 100 to 150 violin players, Elizabeth was asked to play first violin for the blue group in the tenth chair.
"We only got to practice a day and a half, and we had to master playing the parts together and playing at tempo really quickly," said Elizabeth.
She said she started playing violin eight years ago using the Suzuki method, and was never introduced to other ways of playing.
Elizabeth Webb will play next with the other members of the SMMHS strings program as well as the high school band at UTC's Roland Hayes Concert Hall Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m.
"At school, it's fun to get to lead the class," said Elizabeth, who is currently in the intermediate strings class at SMMHS, the highest level offered at the school. "At Junior Clinic I had to push myself farther and not be the person holding everyone back, so I was playing stronger."
Elizabeth's Junior Clinic experience has motivated her to seek out additional opportunities to play with others. She is presently working on her audition for the highest-level Symphony Orchestra branch of the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra Youth Orchestra for the 2011-12 school year.
"As a solo player she's very advanced, since she's grown up playing in private and not in an orchestral setting," said Walker. "Her playing level will increase greatly this year through being in Youth Orchestra."
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