The Student News Site of Champion High School

Charger Ink.

The Student News Site of Champion High School

Charger Ink.

The Student News Site of Champion High School

Charger Ink.

Playing His Way to Victory

Max Moreland and his older brothers taking a picture before they head to a recital.

The curtains open, bright lights flash, sweat trickles down. The nerves overcome his body and he starts to tense up, feeling as though his fingers will go numb. He places his fingers on the keys. “Just take deep breaths and breathe,” he says to himself, becoming aware of the fear leaving his body.

Orchestra member Max Moreland’s favorite hobby is music. Now a junior, he has been playing the piano for 12 years and the viola for almost six years. 

“Most professional pianists begin piano lessons at a very young age and practice a lot,” reports Riverside Music Studios, a piano conservatory in New York City, founded by Dr. Dmitry Alexeev, a current faculty member at Columbia University who holds a Doctor of Music Arts from Manhattan School of Music. “The majority of professional pianists they begin taking lessons between ages four and six.”

Although Max Moreland is on the same track as many professional pianists, he is not attached to the idea of playing the piano or the viola professionally; however, he has considered doubling majors in college so that he could continue his music performance.

“I started when I was five, and I hardly even ever practiced at the beginning, maybe five minutes a day, but now I practice three to four hours a day,” Moreland said.

Music has always been a huge part of Max’s life. His dad plays the piano and his mom is a singer. Naturally, Max’s parents put him in piano lessons. Moreland said it ended up being a huge blessing. Even though he has never been sure if he was wanting to go professional, his love for music has allowed him to continue to pursue his musical hobbies.

“From the beginning, my biggest music inspiration was my parents,” Moreland said. “But if I had to pick an artist that really inspires me, Emmet Cohen is this jazz pianist. He is a big deal; I like him alot.”

Not only does Max enjoy listening to jazz, his favorite genre to play is jazz as well. He is specifically fond of fast jazz, a kind of samba style, or like funk. If he hears something he wants to play, he can play it. Moreland has the rare ability to play music by ear. 

“Playing by ear ends up having value way beyond improving your ability to identify pitches and chords–it also develops your understanding of musical style in a deep, authentic way.” According to David von Kampen, a composer and instructor in both classical music and jazz.

Moreland also said performing for people you know or being comfortable playing for a group is crucial to being a great performer; it builds good performance etiquette and builds the confidence to play with bigger crowds.

“One time for lunch, we went to the band hall with the practice pianos and Max played for me [and friends], and we just watched him play, and I played and it was just fun,” Max’s friend, junior Jonathan Stohler said.

Although Max still gets nervous before performing in front of a crowd when it is just him or only a few people, the nerves didn’t stop Moreland from working his way up through a program called the Gold Cup, a San Antonio program hosted at UTSA and San Antonio College.

“Basically you choose 3-4 pieces of music to play for a judge and then they rank and score you. And then based on those rankings you can move to the state level or not,” Moreland said.

Sure enough, just last year, Moreland moved up to the state level. Not only did he move up, but he placed first in the state.

“They don’t have any kind of national programs and I was not old enough to get the scholarship that comes with it,” said Moreland. “But I am eligible to get it this year; I just have to do as well as I did last year.”

Max has been practicing ever since, because his current goal is to receive a scholarship from this competition for his piano abilities. He has many supporters who have faith in him.

Stohler said, “With how much dedication he has put into it, I don’t doubt that he is going to succeed.”

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About the Contributor
Presley Holcomb
Presley Holcomb, Reporter
   Presley Holcomb is a cheerleader here at Champion High School. This will be her second year in the newspaper. She acquired an appreciation and passion for this class, along with a passion for writing; she is excited to see where this year is going to take her. She loves fall and all the movies and tv shows associated with it. She also babysits and absolutely loves kids. Be sure to look out for some of Presley’s articles!  

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