Freshman makes soundwaves in Fort Worth Orchestras

Most kids in high school participate in hobbies that are popular and common among their friends. That’s not the case for Freshman Elijah Cavanaugh. His hobby has him playing an instrument in front of thousands of people.
When most students go home to sleep, Elijah goes and practices his violin and his viola. He spends almost 17 hours weekly practicing both of his instruments either at home or in Fort Worth with the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra. This isn’t just a seasonal thing either, he has been doing this for almost 5 years.
“It’s hard to describe how I feel when I play, but when all the music in an orchestra fits together or my notes are exactly in tone and in rhythm it is one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt.”
He intends to pursue music in the future and play in professional symphonies.
Originally, he didn’t want to play the violin at all, but his dad influenced him to try it and he’s loved it ever since. He has spent $1800 on his instruments so far and has invested even more for world-class private instructors. For all of the expenses, Elijah puts a massive amount of time into his practice. This forces him to skip many different activities, and time that might be spent with friends is dedicated to his music.
His mom says, “His dedication and drive are self-motivated, and I’m so proud of his daily commitment to improve his skill. Practice makes better, and I know he will continue to pursue his passion with heart and desire.”
Once you’re in the orchestra, you have to audition annually. Elijah auditions with the Philharmonic symphony. The process is actually very complex.
“First you have to submit a form to the orchestra directors about two months in advance then then when you submit them they will give you your audition music,” said Elijah “Once the day of the audition arrives you take your audition and then leave, and in about one to two months, you are notified if you got in.”
They also have chair tests a couple of times in the year. Elijah just had his chair test last week, and placed 2nd violin, 2nd chair, out of about 40 violins. For the Viola it’s a little different.
“For viola I’m the last chair and will be last chair all year because I am only officially in the Philharmonic orchestra, [where I play violin] and I am allowed to play in a lower orchestra [where I play viola] only as long as I don’t participate in chair tests,” said Elijah
There is a reason he chooses to play in both orchestras.
“In the Philharmonic there is a full orchestra with woodwinds, brass, percussion, and string, but in the string orchestra it is only strings,” said Elijah.
One might also think the violin and the viola are the same things.
“The most obvious difference between violin and viola are its size because violin maxes out at a certain size but viola can keep on going up in size,” said Elijah.
The other difference is strings. The violin uses a G, D, A, and E string and the viola uses a C, G, D and A strings. Also, the clefs are different. The violin is in the treble clef and the viola is in the alto clef.
His Philharmonic conductor, Andres Franco, has conducted many professional orchestras and is in high demand as a conductor. His private lesson instructor, Randy Lyle, plays in concerts all over the United States. Since the people who teach him are so talented, he is getting some of the best guidance in the country.
Randy Lyle, a former student of Grace Prep who graduated in 2002, has been his instructor for a couple of years now and says that it is an honor to be a part of his musical development.
“Elijah is a great student, very driven and very focused. I know that he always comes in having thought about and applied what we talked about the week before.
With so much time and effort spent on his passion, Elijah has started to really enjoy playing and wants to pursue his musical career further.

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