Year 11 student, Eve Gray, has three-instruments-worth of musical history.
“I began with piano in Grade 1—which was great because I learnt to read music—but I also had an older friend at Castlemaine North Primary who played flute and I thought that was really cool. But the school had a rule that you couldn’t change instruments until Year 4.”
Eve set her sights on this goal and, armed with a natural determination, continued in the meantime with piano. In Year 4, Eve was finally allowed to pick up the flute.
One year into what would become a six year immersion with this instrument, Eve went to a music camp where she watched and heard a boy playing oboe.
“After that I was on a mission to play oboe!” she says with a laugh.
In the years before Eve bought her first oboe she spent a fair bit of time on YouTube watching ‘how to play’ clips. She even did a Year 6 project about the instrument.
“I was besotted,” she says.
Meanwhile, she continued with the flute and her involvement with a string ensemble at school. She also saved up every cent she could over many years and in Year 9 began oboe with a second-hand instrument bought on eBay for $300.
“It wasn’t much to pay for an oboe, and not a good quality instrument,” she says. “I’m now saving to buy my third oboe and quality instruments are very expensive!”
The move between flute and oboe was quite an easy transition for Eve because the finger placements are similar. However, the oboe is one of the hardest instruments to play because it has a double-reed giving it the most challenging embouchure.
“Your face and mouth get really tired and I need to increase my stamina,” she says. “The program for my Year 12 music exam is 20 minutes, which is quite a long time.”
Eve says that coming to BSSC and joining the music program has been really good for her, but moving from a school of 400 to one with 1800 was quite a challenge at first.
“Not knowing everyone around me felt quite strange to begin with, but it becomes more normal over time,” she says. “I was really glad that some friends from my old school came to BSSC with me.
“The best thing about the college is how much support there is. And I love it that there is a Communications team here who run the Facebook page—that’s so cool.”
Music has been the biggest commitment for Eve this year, but she also studies Maths Methods, Chemistry, Biology, English Language and, another Unit 3/4 subject, Psychology.
“I practice my oboe every morning before school,” she says. “It’s so important to keep that regular practice up. I’m also in the Bendigo Colleges’ Symphonic Band and I still go back regularly to my old school to be involved with their ensemble.
“I also go to music camp every year. The teachers there demonstrate a whole life embodiment of music… they are very inspring. So is my local teacher, Karen Lichnovsky and the many people around Bendigo who love what they do and share their music with the world.”
Eve recently won an excellence award at BSSC’s Musician of the Year. Her pieces, G.F. Handel’s Sonata in C Minor Mvts 1&2 and G. Grovlez’s Sarabande et Allegro, were described by the adjudicator as ‘technically challenging’ and Eve was commended for the ‘care and commitment’ she brought to them.
Asked to name her favourite pieces, Eve grimaces.
“That’s hard. But I do love John Williams’ film scores—I’m a big Harry Potter fan and Williams wrote all the music for the first three movies. Another favourite piece is Benjamin Britten’s Pan from Metamorphosis.”
As if Eve’s life is not busy enough, she also has a black belt in Karate, is part of BSSC Student Council and trained as an Inclusion Ambassador. And she manages to keep up with world events and names climate change, abortion rights and US gun laws as major concerns.
“I really admire Emma Watson’s work with women’s rights,” she says. “I also like Barack Obama and I admire the UN; the idea that countries come together to solve big problems.”
Eve has decided that Music will not be a career, although she hopes to always play with community orchestras. Her plans are to study Biomedical Science and possibly become a scientist.
So, if by some incredible scientific mechanism, Eve could travel back in time and talk to her 12-year-old self she would say this: “Just enjoy what you are doing. Don’t care about the people who think you’re a dork.”