Strike a Chord

Students find a connection through music.

By Samantha Wang

Senior Michael Huang, Elaine Lin, Evelyn Engen, chemistry teacher Tom Grace, and AP English Language teacher Robert Guarino performed Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love” at the AHS talent show, “Make It Shine”, on Feb. 21. Huang played the cello; Lin played the violin; Grace played the piano, and Engen and Guarino played the ukelele.

Photo | Samantha Wang

Senior Michael Huang plays the cello to Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love”.

When senior Michael Huang was young, he saw his older sister playing the cello, and he was immediately captivated by the instrument. In sixth grade, Huang took the opportunity to play the cello in orchestra and realized that he has a passion for it. He believes that music is a way of helping him to relax and expressing himself through the sound of music.


“Music helps me relax. When I am studying and I am really stressed out, I would go downstairs and play the piano for a bit, play the cello for a bit, mess around, play some random tunes. It got me to feel better because music can express a lot of emotion like a minor can express sadness, and a major can express happiness. It’s a good way, it’s a good outlet to really express yourself. Not really through verbal but through sound,” Huang said.


To Huang, music is a connection with his sister because his sister was the one who inspired him to play music.


“When I was young, I always heard her  playing the piano. I was like that’s pretty cool. But when I was a child, I couldn’t play music. So when I was in sixth grade, when I got off a start playing actual instruments in class, that’s when I started playing the piano and cello, and all started from there, because of my sister,” Huang said.


Huang explained that his sister and Guarino had performed with an odd matchup years ago: a ukelele, a piano, and a trumpet. This time, Huang decided to perform on the talent show is also because of his sister. He wants to continue with what his sister started.


“I want to continue that legacy from my sister with a cello, violin, ukelele, and a piano, an even wackier setup. Guarino held a special place in my sister’s heart with music and English through the talent show, and I want to continue what my sister started,” Huang said. “We just want to get together and play a song for quartet and the talent show is just a catalyst. But you know, I am not expecting a cheer.” •

Photo | Samantha Wang

Senior Evelyn Engen plays the ukelele to her original song.

Senior Evelyn Engen has never wanted to be famous or glow up like a celebrity by playing music. She is just passionate about it.


“I don’t have any interest [in being] famous on YouTube...It’s just a hobby. It’s a really really passionate hobby for me,” Engen said.


Engen has been playing the ukelele for six years and guitar for a year. She has always loved music and loved to sing from a young age. She explains that seeing her favorite artists playing music had made her want to learn to play musical instruments.


“When it comes to instruments, it was definitely seeing one of my favorite artists, singing like a band play, and then taking out their guitar, and seeing them take out ukeleles, and I wondered if I could do that... and then seeing how guitar sounds and hearing it, I was like I want to hear; I want to play something that makes that kind of sound...and I started to play that,” Engen said.


Engen had performed on the talent  show twice before, but the experience of performing this time will be different for her.


“I perform in the talent show in my freshman and junior year, so I was just like why not do it in my senior year...but this time I am doing it with a teacher, so I was really interested and entreat by the idea of being in a band, because I’ve done a duet and I’ve done a solo, but being in a band sounded cool,” Engen said.


Although she has not thought of becoming a famous singer, she wants to perform in many local shows to pursue her passion for performing.


“I definitely would like to play locally at different places,” Engen said. “Maybe put myself out more, try to make myself play more, and make my own material rather than doing covers all the time.” •

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