Arrowhead High School senior Brianna Meyer contributed the following article to the Lake Country Publications to be published in the Living Lake Country Sunday March 10th edition:
AHS Senior Scores Scholarship
Musically, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee hold fine reputations. This year, Arrowhead senior and trumpet player Zach Bednarke obtained the almost unobtainable: a full ride scholarship to either the School of Music at UW Madison or Peck School of the Arts at UWM.
Bednarke’s music career started when he was 10-years-old, when he started playing the trumpet in his fifth grade band. He has played in school ensembles ever since.
“Since the beginning, music has come to me naturally,” said Bednarke. “If I didn’t play music, I would just sit around all day.”
From there, his talent and involvement grew. He started playing in MYSO (Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra) and UWAY (UWM Youth Music Ensembles) after he moved to Wisconsin in 2006. He remains a member of MYSO’s Senior Symphony Orchestra and toured with them to Prague and Vienna in summer 2012. He has also been a member of the Arrowhead Wind Ensemble all four years of high school, and is now the principle trumpet player in that ensemble.
“Knowing how he plays and how he prepares, I was definitely not shocked to hear the news [of his scholarship],” said AHS band conductor Jacob Polancich. “Zach is a bright young man with a real drive for music and sciences. It has been a pleasure watching him grow throughout his years here at Arrowhead.”
When it came time for Bednarke to start preparing for college auditions, he chose some of the country’s most advanced schools of music, including Carnegie Mellon, University of North Carolina, and Vanderbilt. He applied and was accepted to these schools, and then the audition process began.
He auditioned at Madison first, where he met the trumpet professor and toured the campus. Then, he went through the traditional music audition process: scales, prepared solo, and sight reading.
“The majority of the audition is based on solo work, with about a quarter based on scales and sightreading,” said Bednarke. “The judges look for musicality, tone, and musicianship.”
To get the scholarship, Bednarke had to go through two rounds of auditions. The first round includes 125 students competing for the 25 round two spots. During the second round, a panel of eight professors listened to three total hours of auditions before making the final decisions.
“The night before my audition, I was selected to play my solo in a student recital with the entire music camp as an audience,” Bednarke said.
“Most musically-based scholarships awarded to students are simply reiterating practice habits, preparation, and respect towards music. These principles become a lifestyle for those who choose this musical path from a young age. Zach is no exception,” said Polancich. “I am blessed and humbled to work with several students at Arrowhead who demonstrate these same qualities on a daily basis.”
Bednarke found out that he had gotten the scholarship on his first night on his MYSO Prague tour this summer. His mother emailed him, and he said he was “basically bouncing off the walls.”
Now, Bednarke is waiting for the responses from the other colleges—the most important will come from Vanderbilt, which should arrive by the end of March. Then, he has to make his college decision.
“I’ve decided not to go to Madison,” he said. “It’s not the right fit for me, but I’m grateful for the scholarship and I’m honored to use this as part of my resume.”
No matter where he attends school, Bednarke would like to major in music. A school with balanced curriculum and nice campus is important to him, he says. But an impressive music program is the most important factor.
Polancich said, “This scholarship award shows his passion for music. It also reaffirms his extraordinary level of achievement amongst some of the finest high school musicians in the country. Zach has worked extremely hard and I know he is very deserving.”