Champion Cellist: Student inducted into All-State Orchestra as sophomore, works hard to achieve success


Danielle Williams, Entertainment Editor

Running his bow across the strings, creating harmonious sounds, keeping time with the melody, flipping his sheet music — the only State qualifier for orchestra.
Sophomore Jonathan Jarrell is one of the many students at Blue Valley. He has played the cello since fourth grade, when he joined the Prairie Star Elementary orchestra.
Jonathan said he first joined orchestra because it sounded like a fun activity, and he discovered his gift for the cello soon after.
“You can play a large range of notes on the cello, and the instrument’s pitch is usually never too high or too low,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell said playing the cello can at times be strenuous because of all the practicing. Jarrell practices around 25-30 minutes a day — sometimes even more when he’s preparing for competitions.
“It’s not like riding a bike,” he said. “Once you learn how to play, you have to keep practicing just to keep up basic skills. To improve you have to practice even more.”
BV orchestra director Amy Fear said she met Jonathan four years ago and realized his potential right away.
“He is a very quick study, and it doesn’t take as much effort to get where he’s at as it does for others,” she said.
Jonathan uses BV graduate Jenny Shyver as a private teacher. Jarrell said she is his inspiration to improve each and every day.
“She is one of the nicest people I know, and an outstanding cellist,” Jarrell said. “She teaches with a positive attitude and loves every minute of it, which is really important when you’re trying to develop good musicians.”
Jarell went to the KMEA District and State Solo and Ensemble last year.
“I managed to do well,” he said. “I got a 1 [rating] for my solo.”
All-State Orchestra is comprised of the most talented sophomore, junior and senior musicians throughout Kansas. Each musician has to audition at the district level, and then at the state level to make All-State. Jarrell first auditioned for a chair in the Northeast KMEA District Orchestra where there were around 60 cellists. He was one of twenty who made the cut and went to the All-State auditions.
Fear said there were 16 band students and two choir students accepted into All-State, along with Jarrel and junior Grant Dickerson from orchestra.
“It puts him in the top 20 cellists in the state,” Fear said.
Jarrell was the only cellist from BV accepted into All-State Orchestra.
“Sometimes a musician has a bad day or a bad audition, so just because someone doesn’t make All-State, doesn’t mean that person isn’t a good musician,” Jarrell said.
Jarrell and Fear said they were both pleasantly surprised to hear Jarrell had made All-State.
“I was surprised because his reaction to his audition was neither nay or yay, so I didn’t know how he felt,” Fear said.
Jarrell said he found out the news at lunch when Fear came up to his table.
“I was pretty surprised because I’m a sophomore, and I thought I probably wouldn’t make All-State until my junior or senior year,” he said.
Jarrell said everyone has been very congratulatory, and he has gotten a lot of nice comments from friends and teachers.
“My parents were happy, obviously,” he said. “My teachers went out of their way to congratulate me, which I appreciated.”
Fear said she thinks Jarrell has a bright future and has the potential to be an amazing player.
“I hope he applies himself, works hard and sees where he can go with this,” she said.
Jarrell said he’s not sure what’s in store for his future, but plans on continuing to grow and improve as a cellist each day.
“I just plan to keep playing, and whatever happens is fine,” he said. “I’d like to play in college, but I don’t have any firm plans beyond that.”