Playing music and reading it are two very different things.
An instrument responds to touch with sound — an easily defined, memorable reaction to the simplest of interactions: strumming a guitar, smacking a drum or bowing a violin. Anyone can do it.
But to read music feels counterintuitive. Paper doesn’t make noise, no matter how hard someone looks at it, and transferring music from the written medium into sound — pulling those notes off a sheet, into the brain, down the fingers, onto an instrument and into the air — is a skill that has to be developed.
Gadsden City High School sophomore and Etowah Youth Orchestra member Jon Featheringill Jr. is skilled enough to not only read music, but do it quickly — maybe in just a few seconds — and perform a perfect recreation of the original song, whether he’s heard it before or not.
That’s how he passed his audition for the National Association for Music Education’s All-National Honor Symphony Orchestra, anyway, playing a double bass piece so obscure that he can’t recall much about it, except to say it was German.
He’ll go to Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort in November as part of the national orchestra, one of only three Alabama high schoolers selected to join the All-National Honor Ensembles, and only two to join the orchestra.
Featheringill auditioned, he said, because he wanted a challenge.
“I think it was just a way to further my experiences and push myself,” he said.
Featheringill had already performed in the statewide orchestra earlier in the year, a prerequisite to auditioning for ANHSO, and according to GCHS Orchestra Director…
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