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Teen seeks noteworthy payoff for time he invests in practice

February 02, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

BOONSBORO - When Dondi Ellis had to choose a musical instrument to play in middle school, he decided on the piccolo.

His music teacher said that the piccolo's high-pitched sound could break glass, and Dondi thought that was cool, he said.

But the piccolo isn't an instrument for beginners, so Dondi started playing its larger cousin, the flute.

Six years later, the 17-year-old junior at St. Maria Goretti High School, practices his flute four hours a day and hopes to attend a music conservatory after graduation.

Every morning, Dondi practices tone exercises for an hour before school. He also has an hour for practice during the school day. St. Maria Goretti doesn't have a band, but Dondi plays for school functions and church services, he said.

In the evening, Dondi spends two hours working on his repertoire. He studies Mozart and Bach, and loves all types of classical music, he said.

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Dondi is the principal chair, or lead flautist, in the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra rehearses at Catonsville Community College near Baltimore for 3 1/2 hours every Saturday.

Eventually, Dondi wants to "make it in a major orchestra" then launch into a solo career, he said.

He plans to study flute performance in college and would like to attend The Peabody Institute, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music or Carnegie Mellon University, he said.

He has traveled throughout the United States for master classes and other opportunities to study with professional musicians. During a master class, Dondi performs for professional musicians who critique his performance.

Dondi earned the Shield's Scholarship while in high school, which enabled him to study music through Hagerstown Community College, and he was selected to perform with the National Flute Association high school flute ensemble in San Diego.

Following the rhythm of the music is his biggest challenge as a musician, Dondi said.

The son of Dondi and Donita Ellis of Boonsboro also has a passion for math. He likes the structure and strict rules involved in mathematics, Dondi said.

He earned a varsity letter for swimming when he was a freshman, Dondi said.

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