Hazen orchestra students share their passion for music

December 1, 2011

By Contributor

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Everywhere they go, they hear music. Whether it is the ring of the school bell or the wail of a police siren, they can recognize the subtle notes.

The world of three Hazen High School orchestra students revolves around music and it all began at Hazelwood Elementary School.

For Hazen seniors Kent Coburn, Ena Kim and Stephanie Lee, orchestra has been an important part of their lives, ever since they first picked up their instruments at Hazelwood.

Warming up before East Hill String Lessons program starts are Hazen High School senior Ena Kim. Photo by Christina Corrales-Toy

For Coburn, it was the string bass; for Kim it was the viola; and for Lee it was the cello.

Initially, though, they all wanted to play different instruments.

“We all wanted to play band instruments,” Kim said. “That’s kind of funny.”

The three have been very successful with their music. They’ve won numerous awards at the local, regional and state levels, and will perform with the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra in an upcoming concert.

Every Wednesday for the past five years, they’ve shared their musical talents with students from the Renton School District through the after-school program East Hill String Lessons.

The program allows younger students from the district to receive one-on-one string lessons from older students in high school and middle school.

Coburn, Kim and Lee have been tutors since the program’s inception five years ago, and they’ve all learned valuable lessons along the way.

“I think after I’ve done it so long, I actually like teaching,” Lee said. “I never really knew that before.”

Coburn believes tutoring pushed him to stay on top of his technical musical skills.

“It really does help you musically, because you start to realize how much of a hypocrite you are for telling students to do certain things and you don’t do it yourself,” he said.

Kim enjoys watching the growth of her young students.

“I just like seeing these kids grow up,” she said. “We saw them perform last year when they were eighth-graders and they improved so much.”

Lee admitted that the students, who are affectionately referred to as cherubs among the tutors, have a special place in her heart.

“I think I’ve actually gone soft,” she said. “The kids have their way with me.”

As seniors, this will be their last year as tutors with the program. They will be sorely missed, according to Elizabeth Petersen and Sharon Olsen, co-supervisors of the program.

“They exemplify leaders,” Petersen said. “They’re here every week, they’re faithful and they’re excited. It’s been fun to watch them grow into young adults.”

“I’ll miss their dedication and their willingness to be a part of anything,” Olsen said. “Whether it’s their playing or whether it’s their students, it’s never halfway with them.”

All three are destined for college after they graduate. They may not choose to major in music, but they all agree it’s important to find a way to keep it in their life.

“It really is amazing playing in an orchestra,” Coburn said. “It’s going to stay a part of my life.”

When asked to share advice for any future cherubs hoping to follow in their footsteps at Hazelwood, Kim had a simple answer.

“Don’t quit playing,” she said.

Christina Corrales-Toy is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.

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