Hard work brings success for sophomore musician


Max Pegher

Going outside of a comfort zone is a struggle for many people, but sophomore Alex Funk has broken boundaries with his musical talent.

Going outside of a comfort zone is a struggle for many people, but sophomore Alex Funk has broken boundaries with his musical talent. 

Funk had only ever played music in school, so deciding to start taking out-of-school lessons in 2016 was challenging for him.

“My first lesson outside of school was really nerve-racking. I didn’t know what to expect or how the setup was going to be,” Funk said. Even though he was nervous, the lesson turned out to be a success.

Funk began playing the violin back in third grade, due to his mother’s influence, and the clarinet in fourth grade. Funk has continued to play these instruments ever since. 

“I was interested in playing the violin because my mom had also played it,” Funk said.

Then Funk started competing in eighth grade with virtual competitions, the main one being an international one based in Krakow, Poland.

“I had a teacher who was friends with the principal clarinetist of the Canary Islands Orchestra, and she got me in contact with the people I needed to sign up for the international competitions,” Funk said.

Funk had previously only been in local competitions, so competing internationally, via a recorded performance sent to the judges, was a very different experience.

“Even though it was a recording, it was nerve-racking because I have been working on this piece for weeks and to finally submit the video was surreal,” Funk said.

Although Funk has entered these competitions, he likes to think of it as something to do as a hobby.

“I do not plan on doing this in the future. It is something fun I like to do on the side,” Funk said.

Funk has had lessons with a couple of teachers online, but he really looks up to music teacher Marissa Virgin.

“Ms. Virgin has been amazing and she is my favorite teacher,” Funk said.

Virgin is proud of Funk’s hard work throughout his music career.

“He has improved significantly, and he is now participating in PMEA festivals, Pennsylvania Music Educator Association, and the international competition in Poland,” Virgin said.

Fellow musician Emma Smerbeck, a sophomore, admires Funk’s musical progress.

“I’m very proud of him. I think he’s very talented,” Smerbeck said.

Smerbeck also is very impressed with Funk’s ability to juggle playing two different instruments.

“He is really good at both his instruments, playing both clarinet and violin,” Smerbeck said.