When members of the community read about students who make it to state competition, they know the accomplishment didn’t happen overnight.
Most people assume it took parental buy-in, hours upon hours of practice, outside coaching, perhaps an early start in childhood and some natural talent.
Meghan Le and Kyle Monk can verify those assumptions. The two seniors – Le at Liberty High School and Monk at Independence High School – have made All-State Orchestra for all four years they have attended high school. She plays the violin and he plays the cello.
The two are typical teenagers, except for the seven to eight hours a week outside of class they spend practicing their instruments, the hours they have both devoted as members of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, and the fact that they discuss recording, dynamics, bow work, etudes and excerpts as just routine issues they encounter every day.
Le asked to play the violin when she was seven. A family friend who was a few years older played and she knew she wanted to learn the instrument too. Monk began lessons in elementary school a year before beginning middle school orchestra. Both have worked with a private tutor, in addition to their FISD instructors, from the very beginning.
Le credits all of her teachers with helping her succeed. Her current private tutor hosts classes focusing on all-state competition. Learning to play dynamically and with clarity are areas she has concentrated on beyond the technicality of knowing the musical notes. In addition to her talent, the techniques she works on have paid off. Of course, Le is a detail-oriented person. She says thinks her love of detail may have led to her ability to hone her music.
Her first lessons in violin were full of little details and have stayed with her – her first instructor had her learn bow skills by holding a pencil.
But still, despite her love of detail and the hours of preparation, Les says “The auditions are nerve-wracking!”
Monk was inspired to play the cello by his sister, who is also a cellist. She earned a place in the all-state orchestra twice.
“I wasn’t that competitive as a freshman,” Monk says, adding that earning all-state as a ninth-grader did cause him to become competitive in the next three years. “When I was a freshman I was the 40th student picked out of a possible 42. I just barely made it.”
Both Le and Monk admit that having made state as freshmen caused them to want to continue to be selected. The trip to San Antonio is fun and challenging musically, they agreed. Of course, it has its price because even All-State students have to come back to school and make up their classwork.
Now, as seniors, the two are looking to the future. Le is trying to decide where to go to college and also hoping to be offered scholarships that will help her make up her mind. Monk has been accepted into Baylor University and plans to major in music and engineering.
Monk noted that playing music throughout high school and learning different methods of study and focus carries over into academics.
Both Le and Monk listen to popular music, haul around big backpacks and are attached to their phones, just like their peers. But put an instrument and a bow in their hands and they soar above their classmates – fingers and bows taking flight to produce music that has been judged as outstanding across Texas – four years in a row.