Hours spent with the same piece of sheet music, perfecting pitch and vibrato. Performance after performance in a floor-length black gown, playing first chair violin in a professional orchestra. Countless auditions in front of a panel of judges to secure a top spot in Atlanta’s most elite music programs. For MK Guthrie, BT junior, her violin is not merely a hobby, but a way of life.
After asking for a violin for her fourth birthday, MK started to play and quickly mastered the fundamentals of the craft. “The basics of violin are to produce a good sound with good technique,” she said. Thirteen years of playing have sharpened that technique, and over time she has come to realize that she truly has a passion for it. “The best thing about playing competitively is that you get to play these amazing pieces [such as Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy] and you meet a lot of diverse people.”
Passion, however, can only take her so far. MK meets regularly with a lesson teacher to go over the most difficult pieces she is learning at once, in addition to many hours of practice on her own. “My lesson teacher works on the hard sections in the pieces that I’m learning so that they become more polished,” she said. “My daily practice routine is practicing about two hours a day, and I usually have around five or six pieces at a time that I work on.”
Along with her love and dedication to violin, MK has a natural talent for the instrument. Just last month she received a call informing her that she had been named the Georgia Piedmont Youth Orchestra’s Concert Mistress for the 2014-15 season! In the past five years, she has been the concertmaster for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra, ASTA Summer Orchestra, Georgia Piedmont Youth Symphony, and Buckhead Youth Symphony. She has also been played competitively with Georgia All State Orchestra, the Suzuki Institute, and Franklin Pond Chamber, as well as spending a month over the summer at the Sewanee Summer Symphony in Tennessee (where she was first chair violinist) and playing at the Fox Theater with the Atlanta Irish Music School when she was only twelve. She is currently active in the BT music community as the first chair violinist of Titan Strings, in addition to being one of 12 AP Music Theory students.
As in any hobby or pastime, MK has role models that she looks to for inspiration and encouragement. Her favorite violinists include Itzhak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, and Joshua Bell. “They’re the best violinists in the world and they’re always perfect while playing.”