After-school sessions

Freshman violinist shares his unconventional method for after-school music practice.

Seeing your parent’s car pull into the school’s car line at the end of the day can be a relieving sight for students, however many students have to wait quite a while before their parents are able to pick them up. For freshman violinist Bobby Guo, the time became an opportunity for his after school practice sessions. 

Although Guo said he was not interested in playing an instrument at the time, he first started playing the violin in fourth grade after high schoolers visited the elementary schools to introduce the music program.

“My parents said ‘Hey, you should probably play an instrument. I heard it’s good for you,’ so I ended up picking the violin,” Guo said.

Freshman Bobby Guo plays his violin after school, Sept. 12. “I might as well practice and make use of that time to do something productive instead of waiting there and waste time,” Guo said. (Shahd Abdeljalil)

Almost five years later, Guo has continued with the skill and does not see himself giving it up in the future. While he doesn’t particularly want to go into the music industry, Guo said he doesn’t want to stop playing, either.

“I feel like I might play it casually, just for fun, because my violin is a big part of my life, and I really want to continue it,” Guo said.

Guo is a member of the Chamber Orchestra at Blue Valley Northwest. Outside of school he is a part of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, an organization that aspires to educate and inspire student musicians. Because of this, he said his practices consist of pieces from Chamber and Youth Symphony alike.

“I usually practice whatever I’m working on – solos I’m working on, whatever chamber music I’m working on,” Guo said. 

Guo often plays in front of the school underneath the overhang, while waiting for his parents to pick him up. While he said he is glad to know people listen to him, he wished to convey that he is simply practicing. 

“Please don’t take my practice as a performance,” He said. “I only do it as practice.” 

Digital illustration of a violin and bow. (Sabrina San Agustin)

According to the British Journal of Psychology, engaging in meaningful practice is linked to musical achievement. Many music teachers would agree that practice is arguably one of the most important things for a young musician learning their skill. The majority of a musician’s career is spent practicing and perfecting their playing in order to perform well.

Even though he doesn’t wish to pursue a career in music, BVNW orchestra teacher Michael Arbucci said Bobby has the skills to make it in the field should he want to.

“Bobby is a violinist who likes to set the bar really high for himself,” Arbucci said. “He plays in several of the extracurricular options, like private lessons and symphony. Then he brings his experience with those things to Chamber.” 

Arbucci described Guo as a team player who helps his classmates and in turn accepts help when needed.

“During class, Bobby is a cooperative student. He works very hard, accepts feedback willingly and is a good team player,” He said. 

During middle school, Guo realized some people had noticed and at times listened to him playing. However, he said he did not expect his simple practices to draw much attention. 

“That’s a pretty nice addition to me just practicing after school – if it makes other people’s days, then I might as well continue doing it if the weather’s nice,” Guo said.

Guo said high schoolers who had visited his elementary school were the ones to introduce him to instruments. (Shahd Abdeljalil)

Arbucci has taught Guo since he began the orchestra program in Blue Valley, and recalled that he has been practicing his instrument outside since middle school. 

“Bobby’s been doing that for two or three years where he would kind of ‘serenade’ the school,” Arbucci said. 

He said it was not only a way for Guo to get his practice in, but also a way for him to play for a passive audience that simply listens without engaging, rather than an active audience. 

“Bobby is a student who’s not afraid to play for others, and that’s one of the cool things that calls people’s attention to him as a musician,musician” Arbucci said. 

Although he enjoys his practices after school, Guo said he will not be able to continue them all year. He explained that the instrument is sensitive to temperature, meaning if the weather is too high and humid it can damage the violin.

 However, he said that as long as the weather is nice, he’ll continue to practice his violin after school.

“I’ll probably play more often once the temperature gets more mild,” Guo said. 

Arbucci said he hopes he continues with his after school playing sessions.

“I wish that Bobby would continue to share that gift with others,” Arbucci said “Because a lot of times kids are apprehensive in showing what they can do, and I appreciate that about him.” 

Guo stated he appreciated the attention, but that he doesn’t want his playing to be viewed as him trying to show he’s the best violinist. 

“I think it’s nice that I’m being acknowledged,” Guo said. “I just think it’s nice that people are enjoying my practice after school and that’s really it.”