Wayland Student Press

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McKenna Kelemanik: It lets me say how I feel without having to say it

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McKenna Kelemanik: It lets me say how I feel without having to say it

Junior McKenna Kelemanik pictured with her tuba. Kelemanik, who plays in both the WHS Orchestra and Band, specializes in a very uncommon instrument: the tuba.

Junior McKenna Kelemanik pictured with her tuba. Kelemanik, who plays in both the WHS Orchestra and Band, specializes in a very uncommon instrument: the tuba. "[Playing the tuba] makes me feel the way nothing else does,” Kelemanik said. “I can tell it anything, and it lets me say how I feel without having to say it.”

Credit: Courtesy of McKenna Kelemanik

Junior McKenna Kelemanik pictured with her tuba. Kelemanik, who plays in both the WHS Orchestra and Band, specializes in a very uncommon instrument: the tuba. "[Playing the tuba] makes me feel the way nothing else does,” Kelemanik said. “I can tell it anything, and it lets me say how I feel without having to say it.”

Credit: Courtesy of McKenna Kelemanik

Credit: Courtesy of McKenna Kelemanik

Junior McKenna Kelemanik pictured with her tuba. Kelemanik, who plays in both the WHS Orchestra and Band, specializes in a very uncommon instrument: the tuba. "[Playing the tuba] makes me feel the way nothing else does,” Kelemanik said. “I can tell it anything, and it lets me say how I feel without having to say it.”

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For the past nine years, the Wayland Music Department has been recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) as a Best Community for Music Education. As a testament to that honor, a high percentage of students at WHS play an instrument, either in the Orchestra or Band, or through one of the other programs offered by the department.

Most music students at WHS play instruments like the violin, cello or the flute. But junior McKenna Kelemanik is no ordinary music student. Kelemanik, who plays in both the WHS Orchestra and Band, specializes in a very uncommon instrument: the tuba.

“I started playing the euphonium, which is basically a small tuba, in fourth grade,” Kelemanik said. “I started playing tuba in sixth grade.”

Like many other music students, Kelemanik began her study with a mainstream instrument. She started the piano at age four but soon found that it wasn’t the instrument for her.

“I played the piano when I was four, and I sucked,” Kelemanik said. “But then in fourth grade when I could do band, [my mother] said I could stop playing the piano if I chose a different instrument. So I picked the euphonium because it was the biggest and loudest instrument I could play.”

Kelemanik began her studies with the euphonium, a smaller-sized tuba.

Kelemanik began her study of the euphonium as a student at Natick Public Schools, where she had a specific instrument teacher that helped her learn the ropes after her transition from piano. However, she believes that having learned the basics with a different instrument made it easier for her to learn the euphonium.

“[When] I was in Natick, they had a program where there were instrument teachers that would come to the school and teach you,” Kelemanik said. “But I did have a foundation – since I had played piano, reading music and all that wasn’t new to me, so I just had to learn how to play the instrument.”

After her good experiences with the euphonium, Kelemanik quickly developed an interest in tuba and soon began a more serious study of the instrument.

“For the first half of middle school, I actually took [euphonium] lessons from a trumpet player because all brass is so similar; it’s really just moving your mouth to change the pitch,” Kelemanik said. “But then in eighth grade, I got a new [tuba] teacher named Michael Stephan, and I really then transitioned to tuba.”

Since her transition to tuba, Kelemanik has earned a reputation as one of the best tubists in the state at her age. In seventh and eighth grade, Kelemanik was selected for Junior Districts and was chosen as the first chair euphonium in her latter year. Kelemanik’s excellence only continued throughout high school. She was selected as the first chair tubist for Senior Districts both her freshman and sophomore year and qualified for All-States her freshman year.

In addition to her endeavors at WHS and at the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) Eastern Districts, Kelemanik is a member of the prestigious Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (MYWE) at the New England Conservatory. This past summer, Kelemanik was also selected to attend a tuba workshop at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in the Berkshires.

This past summer, Kelemanik attended a tuba workshop at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute in Lenox, MA.

Throughout her career thus far, Kelemanik has made many memories, including those of her trip to All-States and her MYWE performance at Jordan Hall. But her favorite memories still originate from her experiences at WHS.

“My favorite memories as a group are whenever I can go practice during a free when the auditorium is open and I get to play alone in the giant auditorium,” Kelemanik said.

Looking to the future, Kelemanik hopes to pursue her passion beyond high school.

“I want to get a performance degree in tuba, and I want to play in a major orchestra,” Kelemanik said.

But however far she has come and however further she goes in the future, Kelemanik hasn’t forgotten the reason why she fell in love with the tuba in the first place.

“[Playing the tuba] makes me feel the way nothing else does,” Kelemanik said. “I can tell it anything, and it lets me say how I feel without having to say it.”

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Kyle Chen, Opinions Editor and Copy Editor

Kyle Chen, class of 2020, is the editor of WSPN’s Opinions section and is a copy editor as well. This is his third year reporting for WSPN. Kyle runs...

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