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Music Makers

Meet three talented women musicians with the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra

Meet three talented musicians with the Johns Creek Symphony Orchestra.

Alison James

Instrument: I play the violin with JCSO and have played with them since the first season in 2007-2008. The first concert was actually in December of 2006, which I played as well. 

Favorite music this season: I really enjoyed playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in March. I also really enjoyed playing Dvořák's New World Symphony in February. I play a lot of ballet and opera repertoire, so any time I can play a good standard symphony, I get excited. 

Best advice from a music teacher: Have fun while you play. 

Best advice for a student: Have fun while you play and make sure to listen to the things you are working on a ton of times. 

Mother’s Day plans: This year I will be spending Mother’s Day at home with my husband, mother and mother-in-law. I am hopeful that my college-age kids will be home from school at that time.

Sarah Kapps

Instrument: I have played cello with JCSO since about 2011. 

Favorite music this season: We had a memorable Scottish Fantasy with Kevin Zhu. He was thrilling to share a stage with. In the coming year, I’m looking forward to meeting the conductor finalists and seeing what they choose to program. 

Best advice from a music teacher: The late Charles Bruch once said that making music is 90% listening to others and 10% listening to yourself. At the time, I was about 20 years old and I was definitely only concerned with myself. Now when I remember him, I challenge myself to “listen out” and hear the music differently. There’s always a deeper layer of listening. 

It takes a lot of trust to let go and listen while you’re playing. It feels like what I imagine surfing feels like. 

Best advice for a student: Speaking from my own experience, everything shifted in a positive direction when I stopped competing with other women and started collaborating. It’s already a competitive field, why make it more difficult? 

Mother's Day plans: I will spend some of it with my students and I will also take time to remember my own mother who has been gone about 10 years. People always said we looked alike, so all I have to do is look in the mirror and she’s right there! 

Judith Klein

Instrument: I have been playing flute and piccolo with JCSO since 2012. 

Favorite music this season: Since Wayne, our music director, intended for this to be the grand finale of his career before retirement, he programmed all of his favorites and what a treat it has been! Sadly though, he passed away before he had the chance to conduct what he clearly poured his heart into. Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 were wonderful to play and my favorite was Copland’s Appalachian Spring. I look forward to hearing his very talented daughters Adelaide and Katie perform on our May 4 concert. 

Best advice from a music teacher: On the subject of practicing, my professor Eldred Spell taught me that when you make a mistake, the reason for the problem usually lies before the error itself. The missed notes often result from not feeling truly secure in the notes immediately preceding. The solution was to back up a couple of bars or so and practice stopping on and sustaining each note leading up to the mistake. Another one of my professors, Kate Lukas, taught me that any overwhelming piece or passage can be learned if you break it into small enough pieces, which I find to be true in many other areas of life too! And when I found myself stuck in life’s comparison trap, Eldred’s pep talk to me included, “Follow your own path - it’s a good one.”

Best advice for a student: I took this actually from a parenting podcast by Becky Kennedy and I adapted it to performance and audition anxiety. It may be relevant to many musicians. She said, “You can’t learn to regulate a feeling you don’t allow yourself to have.” Wow, after years of hearing and reading advice about how to “get rid of” or “overcome” nerves, this really struck me as brilliant! In my experience, none of the deep breathing or other tactics work until you acknowledge that the nerves are totally appropriate. Rather than shoving them away, recognize the familiar feeling, say hello to it and thank it for caring so much. 

 Mother’s Day plans: It’s truly a blessing to be able to celebrate with my own wonderful mom and mother-in-law and to now be called “Mommy” myself! I love my family and it’s my proudest title!

...any overwhelming piece or passage can be learned if you break it into small enough pieces, which I find to be true in many other areas of life too!