Master Musician

Rebekah Stanley first started playing music in fourth grade and since then she has never stopped. She has been strongly influenced by both of her brothers, who have been playing music since they were younger too. Their relationship continues to grow as they continue to share their love and passion for music. Web Editor Adrienne Gray| Staff Writer Annie Laforet | Staff Writer Dan O’Callaghan

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This year, junior Rebekah Stanley is the first chair violinist and concertmaster. She has been playing the violin since the fifth grade in addition to the viola and the piano. Inspired by her family, music has become a big part of her life.
“It is an outlet and when I’m playing I can forget about other things and just focus on what I’m playing,” Stanley said. “If I am really stressed I can just play.”
Stanley was first inspired by her older brothers, Lukas and Joseph, because they are both musically inclined. At the age of four, she began playing the piano, which is one of the instruments her brothers also play. After learning to play the piano, she learned to play the viola in third grade and violin in fifth grade. To this day, her brothers are still a huge part in who she looks up to when playing. She has many memories growing up with her brothers playing music, including going to consecutive lessons together and listening to each other play.
“When my brothers were in middle school and high school we would go to their concerts together,” Stanley said. “We would just always go to everything together.”
Lukas first started playing playing piano when he was seven years old, then he when he was ten he began to play the viola, which started him down the path of playing string instruments. Stanley and Lukas spent a lot of time when they were younger, teaching each other new songs.
“I spent a lot of time writing music when I was growing up, and I remember specific instances of teaching Rebekah how to write music, or giving her small lessons on the viola or piano to help her prepare for lessons and recitals,” Lukas said.
Today, Lukas is still pursuing music in his everyday life. After graduating Midland High he attended Western Michigan University where he graduated with bachelor’s degree in music Education and Music Composition. He spends his days teaching private music lessons, writing music and performing music. When he comes home for holidays, he looks forward to hearing what Rebekah is playing and how far she has come since the last time he heard her play.
“I heard the recording recently of her viola performance from Solo and Ensemble this year, and I was really impressed with how much her sound and her technique has matured since I saw her play viola last,” Lukas said. “The piece she played is one that I learned when I was a senior at MHS, and was also the first piece that I studied in college, which just shows you what a high level she is playing at for a Junior in high school.”
Since first starting to play, Stanley has won eleven medals for solo and ensemble and also three trophies for achievement testing. This year, she is a concertmaster, which means everyday in class she has to tune her violin as well as tuning everyone else’s. As well as tuning the violins, she also leads sectionals for first violins. She is one of the first juniors to be a concertmaster, normally a senior is chosen to be one. Her mother, Julie Stanley, has always been supportive of Rebekah and her brother’s music interests.
“We always hoped that our kids would just learn to love and appreciate all kinds of music,” Julie said. “When they expressed a desire to take piano lessons, and then lessons for other instruments too, we found a way to make it happen because we know how beneficial music is for children.”
Currently, Rebekah has one lesson a week during the school year with her instructor, Melissa Everett, as well as summer lessons. She has been going to lessons from her since June of 2010.
“Mrs. Everett has really influenced me because I’ve been taking lessons from her for so long,” Rebekah said. “She’s the reason I am where I am because she has taught me everything I know.”
As well as taking lessons, Rebekah is also playing in the Midland High orchestra and her worship team at church, Everett has seen her skills continue to grow throughout her years of teaching her, but in the past two years she has seen significant differences.
“Her tone and technique have suddenly taken off,” Everett said. “She has developed an amazing tone, very sweet sound, in addition to her technique advancing.”
Although Rebekah would love to go on and like play in an orchestra in college, she does not see herself majoring in music like her oldest brother, Lukas.. Although Rebekah can not play in concert orchestra next year, because it does not fit into her already seven hour schedule, she would like to continue expand her music talents on different instruments, such as the cello.
Coming up on On March 16th, Rebekah will be returning to the state solo and ensemble music competition for the fifth year in a row. This year she will be playing Concerto in C-Minor by Bach on the Viola. Preparing for this, she has to see her accompanist, who will help her in preparing scaled and practicing sight reading, because that is another part of going to state solo and ensemble states.
No matter what musical direction Rebekah will choose to pursue, her family will always be proud of how far she has come.
“She really strives for excellence in everything she does, and music is no exception. I’m very proud to be her brother and to see how much she has accomplished,”Lukas said.