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At age three, most children begin talking in short, five-word long, complete sentences. They begin to identify common colors, recognize familiar sounds and develop memories.
Senior Katie Hobbs’ earliest memories, however, were of her begging her parents day after day — not for candy, toys or dessert but for violin lessons.
The violin first entered Hobbs’ life at a fiddle concert where she had heard violinist John Hartford clog and play away onstage. She had sat, enamored by the spectacle, with blue eyes glistening as she watched Hartford perform. Then the begging had began.
She pleaded, day after day, pestering her parents with her sweet voice – which would later become another musical asset – but to no avail. Her parents thought she was too young, and that was that. A year passed, the begging persisted and the answer remained, “No.”
But somehow, Hobbs said, a miracle happened: her father met an old woman on a cruise ship.
Though that in itself is nothing special, what the old woman did before retiring was; she had taught piano for many years, and when she heard of Hobbs’ attitude towards the violin, she convinced Hobbs’ father to let Hobbs begin lessons.
“I first thought she was too little,” Lucinda Hobbs, Katie’s mother, said. “But after getting some advice from somebody who had taught music for a long time, we decided to get her a violin.”
Hobbs’ first violin was a macaroni box with a stick attached to the end. Within a month, she gained enough experience to move onto a real violin. From there Hobbs’ passion for music surged forward.
In addition to taking violin lessons throughout her elementary and middle school years, she also participated in school choirs and the honors choir.
Near the end of seventh grade, Hobbs’ life changed – again. And like her fascination with the violin, this change was also because of a performance, but one completely opposite of Hartford’s fiddle fest: The Magic Flute by Mozart.
“I’d always liked music and musical theater, but [The Magic Flute] introduced me to the operatic style of singing. It was different than what I’d heard before and also better – I completely loved it,” Hobbs said. “I didn’t know singing could be amazing. After that day, I knew I wanted to sing professionally, or at least try.”
This choice was not a surprise to the people in Hobbs’ music life. Her violin teacher, Carol Kmucha, said Hobbs’ passion and dedication to exploring music enable her to be successful with any form of music.
“I remember when she first started, she had some trouble with the positioning of the violin,” Kmucha said. “But Katie has both talent and the patience to practice, which makes a difference.”
Today, Hobbs continues to juggle two musical instruments. Even though they are two different types of music, she loves both and thinks one helps improve the other. By studying violin for a time before starting voice, she went into voice lessons already knowing how to read music and what certain musical terms meant.
“I try not to think of [violin and voice] as going against each other or as two different things,” Hobbs said. “I think they can complement each other and they’re not opposing forces.”
Her commitment to each instrument paid off when Hobbs made not one, but two All State Ensembles her junior year. Then, faced with the decision of All-State Orchestra or All-State Choir, Hobbs chose orchestra. To not miss out on an All State Choir experience, however, Hobbs auditioned and made the All-State Choir again this year.
With so much love for music, Hobbs had decided by the beginning of junior year she wanted to continue with music after high school. Despite the stereotype of aspiring musicians’ families, Hobbs’ parents were accepting of her choice although they were shocked when they found out.
“I knew it would be a life-long hobby,” Lucinda said, “but I didn’t know she would pursue it in college.”
Along with spreading her musical gifts in college, Hobbs will inspire others. Junior Rebecca Burke-Aguero, also an All-State soprano this year, remembers being in the Jefferson Junior High choir with Hobbs when she was in the eighth grade. Even then, Hobbs’ voice had the maturity and accuracy that it has today, always serving as a model.
“From my earliest choir days I aspired to be like her. She was good even back then,” Burke-Aguero said. In a recent Northeast District rehearsal Burke-Aguero and Hobbs both attended, “there were only six sopranos, and I sat right by her. She [got] the notes instantaneously, so it [was] good to follow along.”
While Hobbs holds musical talent at the tips of her fingers, she is never one to show off or stick it in others’ faces.
“She’s humble,” Burke-Aguero said. “She’s super talented and an awesome person, but she doesn’t parade it around … which just makes her even more awesome.”
By Daphne Yu