Student violinist excels, looks toward music school


Perhaps you’ve heard him playing in the mornings as you walk down the arts hallway; maybe you’ve seen him walking to class, always with his precious instrument in its case, slung over his shoulder.

Of all the orchestra students at Leesville, one stands out amongst them – the only one who plans to pursue a career in musical performance: Galen Tim, violinist.

Tim is the concertmaster (1st-chair violinist and figurehead) of the LRHS Chamber Orchestra, the school’s highest-level string ensemble, and has held the position for nearly all of his four years.

Most days he is practicing; perfecting every note and measure for many hours at a time. He treats his instrument as many would treat a newborn child. If you play any classical piece, he could probably name it just by listening to it for a few seconds. Tim clearly lives the life of a dedicated musician.

Tim has played the violin since the fourth grade, staying involved in the LRMS and LRHS orchestra programs as well as full-summer camps like Greensboro’s Eastern Music Festival EMF – a five-week program “attended by advanced and international music students interested in pursuing musical performance,” according to Tim.

With high talent levels come high ambitions. “I’m looking at major [music] conservatories,” Tim said of his possible destinations. “San Francisco [Conservatory of Music] and Peabody [Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University] are my top schools.” Tim intends to study for both musical performance (professional orchestral playing) and music education.

The experience Tim has had while in the Leesville orchestra, he believes, will help promote both goals. “I’ve learned much about organizing a [music] program, and the art of managing an orchestra,” he said; these things could be key in many future career possibilities.

Thanks to his talent and tenure, many members of the Orchestra look up to Tim and respect his prominent role in the program.

“Galen brings more inspiration and more drive to do better,” said Kayla Horne, a senior bassist in the chamber orchestra. “We have a businesslike atmosphere [that we didn’t have before]; it’s more like ‘let’s get down to business’ now.”

“At first I thought he simply brought boring instruction, but he actually brings energy,” said Emmanuel Shiferaw, junior violinist. “He’s definitely experienced in terms of leading the section.” As a newcomer to the chamber orchestra’s violin section, Shiferaw has been able to gain additional musical knowledge from the long-time concertmaster.

However, taking charge doesn’t always leave a good impression. “We look up to [Tim] as a violinist, but as a leader… he’s a little authoritative,” Horne noted thoughtfully. Though many in the orchestra share this sentiment, Tim is nevertheless respected as both a musician and an asset to director Mark Stiles by all of the orchestra.

“Galen is a progressive and fast learner,” said Stiles, who has taught Galen for all his years at Leesville High and Leesville Middle School, in addition to private lessons in 4th and 5th grade. “He has dedication and work ethic. He know what he’s talking about… he’s a good leader, and a role model for others to follow.”

Stiles has observed and facilitated Tim’s musical development since the hesitant fourth-grader first picked up a rented miniature violin and screeched out variations of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

“He’s well on his way,” Stiles observed, hopeful for Tim’s future.

The young musician’s potential is very clear – ask anyone who has taken the time to observe his practice sessions. Over the past year, Tim has pushed himself to practice at a more frequent pace as he attempts to master an iconic cornerstone of classical violin concertos.

“One of the pieces that has really motivated me is Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor,” declared Tim. “I was able to play the first movement last year, but I’ve wanted to be able to perform the entire work.” This concerto is widely regarded as a staple of classical music performance. “It means a lot to me because it has been my first big step to real, respected, ‘adult’ music.”

Thanks to the orchestra, Galen Tim is ready to take a “first big step” to being a real, respected, adult musician.


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