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Band Nerd Discovers Orchestra

by Emily Bovan

Greetings Fellow Musicians,

My name is Shannon Sheldrick and I am the new Program Coordinator and Librarian here at TRYPO. I am excited to be here!

I grew up in a musical family, born to two woodwind musicians who were also music teachers. We always had music playing in our house growing up. I would often wake up to my mother giving piano lessons to the neighborhood children. We would often listen to CDs and the radio and whatever music needed attention to get ready for various lesson plans and gigs. My favorite times were listening to Detroit’s 90.9 WRCJ radio station, “Classical Days and Jazzy Nights” on the way home from handbell rehearsal with my Dad. I was always starstruck by the sounds going on around me, allowing my imagination of concert halls and performing to flourish.

When it came time for me to pick an instrument, my Dad had an old trumpet in the back of his closet collecting dust. As soon as I recognized the loud, vibrant sound of the trumpet I was completely hooked. I took part in all the music classes offered at my school as well as groups at local churches and holiday gigs. My one true love, Marching Band, became the center of my life and I carried that with me into the collegiate music world. The only thing missing from my public school’s offerings at the time was orchestra.

I had dabbled in listening to orchestral pieces and seen the Detroit Symphony a couple of times, but I didn’t have any orchestral playing experience as a young musician. However, by the time I became a senior in college I had become undeniably curious. After some contemplation, I looked down at my check-in sheet and wrote a big check mark through “orchestra” at our start of semester auditions to see what would happen. To my surprise, I made it and ended up doing two different orchestra classes that semester. That first rehearsal is forever etched into my brain, hearing the hauntingly beautiful hum of the string section right next to me, each wind part a soloist. It was a different world. 

As a performer, I feel a deeper connection with music in all of its forms now that I have diversified my experience. Playing in a brass section in a symphony feels different from a band setting because every part is a soloist. I also love the challenge of dancing between blending across a wide variety of instruments, and then knowing when to pop out of the texture in those classic fanfare trumpet moments. I have appreciated this in my music education journey as a challenge and growth to my musicianship.

I will never forget the first cycle of being involved with Michigan State’s Symphony Orchestra, performing Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 in Detroit’s Symphony Hall. My other favorite memories include playing Elgar’s Enigma Variations and playing Rite of Spring last spring with the Oakland Symphony Orchestra.  I will forever love and appreciate my band background as a trumpet player and enjoy its storied history. I also feel fortunate to have allowed myself to branch out and explore a new genre, even though I felt “late to the game”.

I have come to love the layered, rich history of the orchestra and appreciate where it fits into today’s musical ecosystem. I have been drawn to Pittsburgh’s vibrant music scene for years and I am excited to be here now to experience it firsthand! I have been inspired by TRYPO’s various programs for offering these experiences to young musicians so they can grow up with a strong musical foundation and hopefully inspire their musical journey for the rest of their lives.

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