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High School Senior Mollie Hervey: “Being in Orchestra, you get a wide variety of music you get to play. A lot of what we play is typical High School/ Middle School repertoire, it’s not as difficult as Classical Western pieces, but it’s not quite Pop. It’s just learning basic rhythms and stuff like that, and learning how to blend as an orchestra.”

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: Planning Through Passion

Mollie Hervey has her after-high school life planned out through one of her main passions: music

In high school, one of many students’ concerns would be trying to figure out who they are and what they are passionate about. We’re given the goal to have our lives figured out by the time we turn 18 years old and graduate high school, and for many, this is difficult if you don’t know what you’re passionate about. However, there are some students that you meet who already have the major outline of what they want to do with their lives planned out. One of these students is senior Mollie Hervey.

“One of the biggest things I want people to know about me is that I’m a very passionate person,” said Hervey. “I’m passionate when it comes to my friends, I’m passionate when it comes to my family, and I’m definitely passionate when it comes to music. And that passion is what keeps me going.”

Hervey is in her sixth year as a violist in the school orchestra. According to her, a majority of people start their orchestra years playing violin and then ‘graduating’ to playing viola, however, Mollie started on the viola. She’s currently learning to play violin and piano.

“Violin is very similar to viola, but it’s a little harder because since the viola is larger than the violin–it feels cramped.”

For those who don’t know, the violin is like the popular little sister to the viola. It’s smaller, it gets all the melodies, and it’s in a common key signature, whereas violas are the only instrument in alto clef. For those who aren’t music nerds, a key signature tells you where the notes are placed on the staff, the five-bar lines and four spaces that you’ll see when reading music.

Mollie Hervey during a practice session on her viola

“I’m trying my hand at the piano, [but it’s] completely self-taught; I don’t have a tutor or family or friends that play the piano that could give me lessons or anything like that.”

The piano is a huge jump for Mollie in the string family, and to be teaching herself piano and violin along with schoolwork and practicing her skills in playing viola is a major achievement for a High school student.

“When it comes to viola, it’s not that different than playing the violin; it is larger, but it’s basically like a mini cello. When you start out to play the viola, you definitely need to keep in mind that you will not get the melody for most of the songs you are playing. You will either have harmony, or an accompaniment part.”

While not being able to play the main parts of a piece can be disheartening, it’s still fun, and sometimes these parts are better than the melody. However, not a lot of people think this way. “Freshman year, I debated quitting, but ever since we got a new teacher [Mr. Liss] it’s turned things around completely.”

Despite this bump in her freshman year, Hervey plans on taking her hobbies and turning them into a future career by either going into Music Performance or Music Education. “Music Performance can be a variety of things, I could go into Solo Performance, where I’d be a soloist, or it can be an Ensemble Position, where I’d play in a symphonic or philharmonic orchestra.” That’s four options already, and she has them all sorted out by which ones she wants to get into first: “My main goal is to get into an ensemble because I love being in an ensemble, I love playing with other people.”

Currently, Hervey plays in the school’s orchestra, so she gets the chance to play with her classmates via WebEx. However, she’s also seen many people come into and also leave the Orchestra.

“In general, when you’re playing an instrument, a lot of people start playing like it’s just another thing to do or to get credits for graduation, so you’ll often find that they quit after a few years. But, for those who are really driven, if you want to continue playing an instrument into college or even as a career, you have to commit to it, for sure.”

Not a whole lot of people play the viola. However, this doesn’t stop Hervey from playing, because of some benefits that come with talking about the instrument.

”It’s not a rare instrument, but it’s an uncommon instrument and can make for a great conversation piece.” She said. ”It can make a great thing to brag about like, ’Oh I don’t play the violin or a cello, I play the viola.’ Not that there’s anything wrong about those instruments, people just find it fascinating that I’m playing something different.”

”You need to be prepared,” she also stated. ”For a barrage of insults from the orchestra community because it is a common running joke that violists are terrible compared to violinists. It can be something that can discourage someone from playing. I’ve just accepted it at this point.”

While these jokes are all just friendly banter throughout the community, they can put people down a bit, which if you’re new to the music community then it will bring down your confidence a bit, but once you realize it’s all in good fun and that everyone makes jokes about everyone, and if you’re uncomfortable, then you can just say something about it and everyone will respect that. 

Her plans for after high school are pretty similar to a lot of other people (at least that I know), which is to take a gap year to save up money and get an apartment and such, then go to college at Front Range Community College to get the core credits and then transfer to CU after a couple of years. She stated that she’d like to get into the Longmont Symphonic Orchestra since it’s close and from what she’s seen of their performances, it’s a pretty fun community to be in.

She’s learned a lot from her years of playing the viola, and she learned something interesting from playing Death of a Maiden by Franz Schubert last year in an ensemble group.

“I dove into the deep end and realized, “Oh! I can play this!”

It was a piece that she was unsure that she’d be able to play since she’d gotten used to playing the basics of High School orchestral music, but once she learned how to play it and practiced more, she was able to get the hang of it.

“The tone when you’re playing a typical High School piece versus a classical piece is just different when you’re playing a classical piece and it’s a tone that I really like.”

While she may not have every second of her life planned out, Mollie has an idea of what she wants to do, and she always has a backup plan in case things don’t go as expected. Whether it’s through performing, teaching, or finding a career through another hobby she’s passionate about, she’s got a plan for everything.

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