“Music allows a performer to communicate with the audience without saying a word, which is very appealing to me as a shy person,” said senior Holden Shea. Now, concertmaster for the artist guitar ensemble, Shea began playing guitar his freshman year.

“Initially, the reason I started playing guitar was because I had a free elective and it sounded interesting,” explained Shea. Although he hasn’t been playing long, Shea has always excelled in guitar and quickly set himself apart from his peers.

“Since he was in beginning guitar, Holden has always excelled in my classes,” said Kareem Mccullough, guitar teacher. “But what has really made him stand out recently is his developing leadership skills. He goes out of his way to help others in class and seeks any opportunity to perform for others.”

Shea quickly made himself a valuable asset to the guitar program, and was appointed as concertmaster for the artist guitar ensemble. “Holden earned this spot by being the most reliable player in the group and by showing exemplary leadership,” said Mccullough.

Along with playing guitar, Shea also composes original pieces of music. “I can’t remember what the first piece I wrote was, but after my guitar class visited some caverns on a trip, I was inspired to write a piece that captured the essence of a cavern: the low, ominous claustrophobia can sound really good with low bass notes on guitar,” said Shea.

Shea has made many notable accomplishments both within the guitar program and individually. “Holden has been selected for the all Virginia guitar ensemble two years in a row and the regional governor’s school guitar ensemble three years in a row,” said Mccullough. He will also lead the beginning ensemble in the Spring.

In addition to these accomplishments, one of Shea’s original pieces, “From Ashes,” was chosen to be performed at the 2019 VMEA conference. The Virginia Music Educators Association conference is held every year to promote music in highschools and highlight talented players. “I felt proud and excited that other people recognized the merits that I saw in the piece,” said Shea.