Curiosity, practice help high school musician make all-state orchestra |

Curiosity, practice help high school musician make all-state orchestra

Michael Neary
Veronica Mead, a senior at Moffat County High School, performed as a Colorado All State Orchestra musician in Fort Collins earlier this month.
Michael Neary

— When Veronica Mead plays music with other people, she feels a fusion of creative energies.

“I like the personal satisfaction when everyone is together and it comes together so nicely,” said Mead, a 17-year-old senior at Moffat County High School. “It’s not like anything else I’ve ever experienced.”

Mead recently brought that spirit of musical cooperation to the University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, where she participated in this year’s Colorado All State Orchestra performance. She played as part of the orchestra Feb. 13, preceded by two days of rehearsals in Fort Collins with the other musicians. She was chosen to play after submitting recordings of her work.

The musicians played several pieces, including the Fourth Movement of Sibelius’s Second Symphony.

Mead’s primary instrument is the trombone, but she also plays a cluster of others, including the tuba, guitar, ukulele, euphonium and pan flute. That kind of versatility, she said, is important to her, as a musician.

“You can see what (other musicians) are dealing with,” she said. “It helps you, as a musician, if you’re learning constantly. Your musicality is better.”

Mead began playing in earnest in sixth grade, after she watched a high school band performance. She said she’d played a little music before that, picking up the occasional ukulele or guitar, but it was during that year she began to delve deeper into her music.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I think I could be interested in doing something like that,’” she said, reflecting on the performance she’d seen. Shortly after, she joined the middle school band and began to play.

She said she especially likes to play jazz — including Brazilian jazz — and she also likes big band music from the early 20th century.

John Bolton, high school and middle school band director for the Moffat County School District, noted Mead’s penchant for practicing.

“When she was in middle school, she was a practice-aholic,” he said. “She put in the time to play.”

Bolton also noted the way Mead’s curiosity nourishes her playing.

“She takes the time to listen to what she’s playing,” he said. “She’ll do the research.”

Mead’s curiosity can also merge into a playfulness when she contemplates the instruments she plays and listens to.

“I’ve always thought of the trombone as kind of a tall, skinny man who’s really squirrelly,” she said with a chuckle. She described the tuba as robust and the upper winds as delicate. But she returned to the trombone as her favorite instrument.

“It’s kind of whimsical,” she said. “It makes you feel good.”

Mead, who was chosen to play in the Colorado All State Band last year, plans to continue playing and studying music in college,and possibly in graduate school after that.

Bolton, as he recalled the Colorado All State Orchestra performance, reflected on how students such as Mead can kindle some hope among the adults who watch them.

“They’re very serious about making music, and they’re serious about making it wonderful and perfect,” he said. “You have faith in the future when you see these kids working at this kind of endeavor.”

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