By Camille ’29
As a new seventh grader at HW, there were a number of daunting things facing me. Amongst the academic challenges, massive campus, and lost IDs, but the one that stood out amongst the others was how well I would perform in the school’s concert strings. At my previous school, the music track was fairly small and unintimidating. When I got to HW, I was taken back by the vast number of students in Concert Strings alone. I was frightened and nervous, which I personally think is very fair. How would I fit in a giant group?
Eventually, I realized it’s not that hard. The conductor, Dr. Nikolaeva is extremely kind and welcoming. After the initial shock and anticipation, I started to enjoy going to concert strings. The pieces are enjoyable and a good mix of simple and challenging. If you need any help, Dr. Nikolaeva is always available. Of course, your stand partners and fellow musicians are glad to assist you as well.
In general, I am usually quite terrified and anxious when I am in any position to “prove” myself, or not fail in general. In concert strings, however, that feeling didn’t come regularly. Perhaps it’s the fact that even if you make a mistake, the sound of the orchestra can usually cover for you. Or that there will always be another rehearsal, another time to practice, another chance to improve. And there will always be people to do all that with you. Despite the academic rigor and competition at HW, I feel that the performing arts department is a safe, fun space for me. No matter what level of experience or talent you are, you will fit in right with everybody else at your level.
Concert strings also helped motivate me to improve at violin. At my elementary school, pieces were rather simple and I felt that I had stagnated. At Harvard-Westlake, I became very aware that I had a long way to go to match a lot of my other peers. Due to my inherent desperation to excel, at first I tried my best to rush forward. After a while I slowed down and began to try to improve myself at a slower pace. All the same though, being in orchestra helped me get back on track and strive to improve myself, like most of the things here at HW.
I still want to improve my violin skills, and the hopeful, selfish part of me still longs for shining, prodigal talent above anyone else. Even if this is an unlikely scenario, there is no problem with striving to work for it. And I know this sounds cheesy, but there is a far greater reward than excellence – the friends and memories we made along the way.