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Members of the All State Orchestra

March 08, 1997

By TERI JOHNSON

Staff Writer

The cello has tugged at Jess Price's heartstrings since she was in fourth grade, and she's glad she started playing at such a young age.

The Smithsburg High School junior worries that cuts in school music programs will hinder budding players.

"As a musician, it breaks my heart," she says.

Students in Washington County schools now start playing instruments in sixth grade instead of fourth grade, and she believes missing those two years will make a big difference.

Jess will be one of 17 cellists performing with the Senior All State Orchestra Sunday, March 16, at 2 p.m. at North Hagerstown High School.

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The concert will mark the fourth All State orchestra performance for Jess, who is the daughter of Evan and Allyn Price of Smithsburg.

Aaron Norton of South Hagerstown High School was selected as an alternate in the percussion category for the performance.

Jess, 16, says playing at an All State concert is a humbling experience.

"It's a chance to play with people who are way better than I am," she says. "It helps me remember that I can't slack off; I have to keep working."

She says she finds it rewarding to work with students so devoted to their music.

"It's been an amazing experience to get with a group of musicians that truly wants to be there," she says.

Jess, who gives cello lessons, plans a career teaching college music.

She's been taking piano lessons for two years, mostly to learn more music theory. Her 12-year-old brother, Nick, also takes piano lessons.

Her father is the orchestra director for Smithsburg Middle School and Smithsburg High School, and this is her eighth year in his class.

"He has high expectations of me, and that's a good thing," she says.

She played the violin when she was a child, but when her father came to her school to show instruments to the students, she became interested in the cello.

She formed a string trio with two other juniors at Smithsburg High School, violist Shanna Fisher and violinist Kristen Booth.

Jess also is a member of the school's French Club, and she participated on the cross-country team this year.

She practices cello one to two hours a day, but she would like to increase her rehearsal time.

"Now I have to concentrate on my music," she says. "I need to get ready for college auditions."

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