Senior Spotlight 2019!

Isabelle Petrucci, viola
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 3 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year
Presto – 1 session









Grace Lu, violin
Essex High

VT Youth Orchestra – 5 years
VT Youth Sinfonia – 1 year
VT Youth Strings – 1 ½ years
Presto – 1 session
September 2018 Senior Soloist













How did you choose your instrument over all of the others?

Lu: In kindergarten each person in my class had a chance to choose what CD to play music from during nap time. Whenever it was my turn, I would choose this one Vanessa Mae CD my teacher Mrs. Palmer had in her basket of CDs. I soon fell in love with the lush, romantic tone of the violin and I eventually picked up the violin so I could try it out for myself.

Petrucci: Honestly, I chose to play viola because two of my closest friends were playing viola. I didn’t really know much about it, but I figured if they were doing it, then I would probably like it too. In the end, they both ended up switching to violin (cough cough grace you traitor…), but I stuck with viola, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

What do you enjoy most about playing in an orchestra?

Petrucci: My favorite part about orchestra is the music that we’re able to produce. I just find it incredible that so many people can get together once a week and work together so that the end result is beautiful pieces of music. I love the fact that it feels like a big family, and when you’re playing in an orchestra, you forget about everything else and you just focus on the music.

What other activities do you participate in?

Lu: I’m a student representative on the Essex Westford School District school board which means I have the opportunity to talk to students of all ages. I love the enthusiasm they bring to the conversation and being on the board allows me to work with administrators to make EWSD the best it can be. Besides VYO I play in pit orchestras for middle school and high school productions and teach violin privately. I also compete in my school’s Math League and Scholar’s Bowl team.

What has been your biggest musical breakthrough?

Petrucci: My biggest musical breakthrough is honestly kind of basic. I realized that if I wanted to be good at my instrument and sound good, I would need to put the work in. It doesn’t matter how much natural talent you have, if you don’t put the work and practice in, your playing will eventually start to plateau and you won’t really improve anymore. If you don’t like how you play or how you sound, then you need to work hard and keep practicing. I think that that’s a realization that at some point in their musical careers, everybody will come to, and it is one of the most important realizations there is.

What advice would you give to younger music students as they strive to build their skills?

Lu: Try to do something related to music every day. There’s inevitably going to be days where you’re simply too busy to practice, but you can listen to your pieces while doing homework or jot down a few things you would really like to hone in on during your next practice session. Also I’d recommend keeping a practice journal. It helps you remember what skills to continue working on each practice session and I like how I can flip through my journal and see the progress I’ve made.

Petrucci: I would tell younger music students to never give up and to not get discouraged. At times, it can seem tough, and it can seem like you’re not improving, no matter how much you’re practicing, but it’s important to keep going and keep trying. Improvement comes with time and practice, and you should never get discouraged in your playing, no matter how frustrating a certain passage or piece may be. You’ll eventually get it and once you do, you’ll be so proud of what you’ve done.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

Petrucci: My favorite VYOA memory is probably the May concert last year when we played all of Tchaik 5. It was something that we had been working up to all year, and when we finally did it, I thought that it felt pretty amazing. All of our hard work and Sunday rehearsals had been for that moment, and I thought that it really paid off. It was just such an incredible concert and symphony as well.

Lu: I don’t have a single favorite memory because it’s the accumulation of the tiny moments that make VYO so memorable. For example, I love the moments where I make eye contact with my stand partner after goofing up and we both end up laughing it off or when someone approaches me during break to show me an orchestra meme.

What do you plan to study in college?

Petrucci: I want to study chemistry in college, eventually going into medicine and research.

Lu: Right now I’m interested in studying either economics or neuroscience, but that could definitely change! However, I definitely plan on sticking with violin while in college.