Jacob Heasley: A Violinist from the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony


Photo by: Lynne Heasley
Jacob Heasley is in first violin section and 7th chair. He is part of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony and has worked hard to get there.

Jacob Heasley anxiously entered his audition for Kalamazoo Junior Symphony. He would be playing Echles Sonata 1st movement for the conductor Andrew Koehler.  He opened his black violin case and took a deep breath; the smell of rosin was overwhelming from his bow. He pulled out the violin and began to play.

“ I was really scared when I auditioned I had heard a lot about Andrew Koehler,” said Heasley.

Andrew Koehler is the current conductor and has been in the position since June 2007. He treats all the musicians like they are adults. He can be strict but it’s worth it. Junior Ryan Grover who is also a member of the junior symphony said, “ I like how intense the conductor is” she feels it makes her better.

Heasley has been playing violin for 11 years. He is now a freshman in high school and has been playing in the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony since his eighth-grade year.

The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony has musicians that play the violin, viola, cello, bass, french horn, trumpet, flute, trombone, tuba, clarinet, oboe, bassoon and percussion. It was founded in 1939 and is one of the oldest youth symphony orchestras in the United States.

Heasley practices at least one hour every night and 3 hours on Sunday. This year Heasley plays in the first violin section and is seventh chair. This means that he is the best in his section.

Heasley said, “When I play good it’s like an adrenaline rush. I love when it all clicks together and the entire symphony sounds good. When I play bad, I feel like the entire symphony can hear me and it’s an awful feeling,”

Heasley manages his time well making time for the junior symphony, personal practice, KAMSC, schoolwork, and a social life.

He loves being part of the symphony and playing violin but admits its not easy. He expressed that the leader Koehler pushes them to do their best, which may cause some tension. Heasley continues to work hard and perfect his skills.