Northwest student takes two orchestra classes


Senior Mary Yin plays her violin. She has been playing since sixth grade.

Taking six APs, overloading on unwanted classes, cutting out the fun CP classes–many students at Northwest can sympathize with the overwhelming sense of competition and college rigor. AP culture is difficult to combat, but it is possible.

Senior Mary Yin decided to take two orchestra classes her senior year; one zero period and one fifth period. She has been playing the violin since sixth grade, originally picking it up on a whim. 

“For the first two years or so, I was just in (orchestra) for the general community,” Yin said. “Getting to be part of something where everyone works together to create something so beautiful–that’s what I love most about orchestra.”

She has stayed on the orchestra journey as her instrument serves as an extension of her voice and a bridge to closer communities. She has been in All-Country and Western Region Orchestra since eighth grade, garnered the role of concertmaster her middle school and freshman orchestra and went to Governor’s School West for instrumental music.

“Getting to be there with (like-minded) people, working on the same piece together, sharing a common (musical) language, waiting in the (same) audition lines with (likewise) nervous people and going through (everything) as an entire group–that is (better) than any individual achievement,” Yin said.

Yin took two orchestra classes as a way to extend her passion further during the school day. This was not her original plan, but her loaded AP schedule had her consider a different route. Having always been set on an academic track, this leap into a less college-oriented class was a risk.

“Parts of me wondered if taking another AP would somehow strengthen my college application,” Yin said. “I had my doubts because of GPA and class rank, but it felt natural taking another orchestra. I don’t I regret it because when I’m in that class–when I’m playing my instrument–that’s me at my best. That’s me when I’m the most like myself. Having another period of that has been really great.”

There is often a pressure to choose more academic classes because school is considered preparation for a long-term career. Family, culture and society can often persuade against going into an artistic field as there is a stigma in pursuing non-academic careers.

“I’m torn between doing something that would (garuntee to) sustain me financially and doing something that I really love,” Yin said. “A week ago, I would never consider being a professional musician, but I think I will–at the very least–want to do it part time. I used to be so closed off to that possibility, but senior year and college stress had me realize that if you love something, you should give it a chance.”

There are often crossroads between what one loves and what one feels they are supposed to love; while it is never an easy decision, the choice can drastically change a life.

“Don’t just blindly follow what other people are telling you to do or what seems like the best option right now,” Yin said. “Give yourself time to think, and find a balance between the practical and the fun. (Be) less afraid to try new things.”


Below are two excerpts of Yin playing her violin from memory.