Unsung Hero: Jill McKeon
Music and clarinet are her passions
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For the Winter 2016 Green Wave Gazette Unsung Hero, we chose one of Abington High School’s most talented music students. Senior Jill McKeon has had the distinct honor of competing in the South Eastern District Music Festival’s senior division since her sophomore year, after competing in the junior division (where she was principal clarinet player). Jill has also competed in the South Eastern Massachusetts School Band Master Associations (SEMSBA). Jill is obviously a fine clarinet player. Let’s get to know her a little bit better.
How did you get interested in music competitions?
I’ve always listened to music, and so has my family. So, it’s always been a big part of my life. I started playing clarinet in the fourth grade, and my interest in competition started then. When my teacher in seventh grade told me about (South Eastern District Music) festival, my interest grew even more.
What music do you enjoy listening to? What do you like to play?
I like listening to all kinds of music. I’ve been trying to be more open-minded so that I can expand my knowledge. I like going to a lot of concerts and really enjoy live performances of any kind. But as far as playing goes, I mostly perform classical music. I really like it because it’s a lot different from most of the things I listen to. It also helps me understand the music I listen to because I’m able to see all the complexities of classical music, which helps me understand simpler pieces.
So, why the clarinet?
In fourth grade everyone had to choose an instrument and it was kind of tough; I had to choose between the clarinet and the flute. I remembered seeing bands perform and I remembered the sound of the clarinet, and I always liked it. It’s strong, but it has a lot of different ranges and is very versatile.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience in the music competitions and festivals?
From seventh grade through high school, I competed in the South Eastern District Music Festivals competition. Being the principal clarinet player was a really great experience because I had solos and a really good part. Having a prominent role in the band got me really interested in expanding my participation in this competition. The senior division is more advanced, and I have been participating since sophomore year. I’ve also been involved in other festivals such as SEMSBA throughout high school.
What other subjects do you take an interest in studying?
I really like history and English; I’m definitely not a math or science person. I enjoy reading in my free time as it’s actually very similar to music for me. It’s another way that people express themselves. I especially try to read the classics as they help me understand historical time periods and the way people thought. It also helps me understand music and what various pieces are expressing contextually.
As a senior what are your current plans or hopes for college?
I’d like to continue playing clarinet and learning more instruments. I want to incorporate music into my career and my life. I plan on studying music business and creating a career that will allow me to become a part of the music industry in a practical way. I do also want to take advantage of musical opportunities in college, such as performing in competitions or joining ensembles.
Looking retrospectively, do you have any advice for underclassmen?
If you have an interest in music, just practice as much as possible. Also, if you have a passion for something, definitely just go for it and focus on it; you will find success if you do something you enjoy.