SOMERS, N.Y. - Christian Weinschenk is a senior at Somers High School. He is an accomplished student musician and has already begun to lay the groundwork for a career in the music industry. Weinschenk just completed playing in the orchestra pit alongside other SHS students and professional musicians for four performances of the SHS production of “The Little Mermaid.” This most recent “gig” is just one of many accomplishments that Weinschenk has achieved in his years of music education in Somers.
Christian, you are an accomplished high school musician. When did you first start playing? What instrument did you begin with?
I began my musical career in third grade, at SIS, where I took up the violin. I still play the violin to this day, and it will hold a special place in my heart, despite not being my primary instrument.
Do you have a “favorite” instrument to play now? If yes, which one?
My favorite instrument is the alto saxophone, so much so that it will be my primary instrument in music school. I plan to study music technology with an emphasis on performance and composition. I also play the clarinet and tenor saxophone.
What type of music is your favorite to practice and perform? Do you have a favorite composer?
I enjoy playing both classical and jazz. While I do love to play fast music, I also enjoy slow classical and romantic music, as they give me the opportunity to be much more expressive and take more artistic liberties. Bach has always inspired me. Bach’s music has informed my jazz improvisation as well as my classical performance. My favorite composer is Igor Stravinsky.
How much time do you devote to practicing? How do you balance that time with studying and other endeavors?
I generally practice as much as I can. I have an intense academic schedule in addition to a part-time job, and I freelance online as an arranger, which can be very time-consuming. I also participate in the high school Jazz Band, Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Orchestra, and I have private lessons twice a week (one for violin and one for saxophone and composition). This can make it hard to practice as much as I would like. I look forward to music school, where I will be able to practice for longer periods of time.
You have been involved in many SCSD concerts. Do you have a stand-out memory from any of those concerts or rehearsals?
In ninth grade I had my first standout jazz solo. Before this, I flew under the radar as a jazz saxophonist in Somers, and this was really my first breakout moment. Another memorable moment took place last year, when I played “Spring Can Really Hang You up Sometimes,” accompanied by the SHS Jazz Band.
I know that you and the SHS Jazz Band have been selected for All-County Jazz Band this year. Congratulations! How is playing with a group like that a different experience than playing with your SHS groups?
I’ve always enjoyed practicing and performing with SHS Jazz Band. We have a talented group, we have a lot of fun together, and I have a number of really good friends in the band. The SHS Jazz Band will be featured at the All County Jazz Band Festival this year as the opening act. The All County Jazz Group itself is also a lot of fun. I have been impressed by the quality of the performers there and how quickly we can move through new material.
If you could fast forward to where you think you want to be in 10 years, where would you be? Do you plan to continue with music?
Yes, I plan to study music technology in college and hopefully become an electronic music composer or music engineer. I’m particularly interested in the interplay between music and computers. Ten years from now I would hopefully be happily working on a score for a movie or video game.
As a senior at SHS, what kind of advice would you give to younger SCSD students who want to be involved in the performing arts?
If I had to say one thing, it would be to not let where you start as a musician discourage you from trying to improve. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, just practice and you may be surprised by what you achieve. In middle school, I was actually one of the weaker saxophonists, and I often struggled to keep up. However, I kept at it and now I’m very excited to have been accepted to the University Of Michigan’s (Ann Arbor) saxophone department, which is arguably the strongest classical saxophone school in the United States, as well as one of the best for music technology. Of course, I have to acknowledge that I would have never made it this far without the support of some great teachers—both in school and for private lessons—and my parents, who encouraged me and who believe I can be successful as a musician.
Also, if you decide to pursue music in college, be sure to market yourself properly (like how I am currently asking you to visit my website christianweinschenk.com to view samples of my work). My family and I had a plan in which we researched the program at each college thoroughly, arranged to meet with college professors one-on-one before auditions, handed out press kits and created a website as a hub for my work. The latter was key in giving me as much presence as possible during the application and audition process. Start early enough and you’ll be able to ace your college auditions. In order to be an artist, one must be prepared.
This interview was submitted by STARS (Somers Tuskers Arts Rising Stars), a booster club made up of parents and staff members committed to supporting the performing arts in the Somers Central School District. Part of the STARS mission is to educate the community about the student performers, their talents and their work ethic. For more information, please visit: somersschools.org, and click on the “Visual and Performing Arts” tab to get to the STARS web page. Or email: email@example.com.