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Andrew senior aspires to be concert pianist

Patrick Dunaj is senior Andrew High School Tinley Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

Patrick Dunaj is a senior at Andrew High School in Tinley Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun Times Media

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Updated: April 26, 2013 6:02AM



Any good musician knows that to be proficient with an instrument requires lots of practice.

But that doesn’t mean all that practicing is fun.

Patrick Dunaj, a senior at Andrew High School in Tinley Park, knows all about practicing. He’s played the piano since he was in second grade and the French horn since fifth grade. He practices several hours a day, including three hours on Saturdays and eight hours on Sundays.

“I don’t like practicing but it must be done,” he said.

Fortunately, all that practicing has paid off.

Dunaj, 18, is a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras. He learned about the group when he was in seventh grade. A year later, he tried out and was accepted. He’s been playing with the CYSO ever since.

“When I first discovered I liked music, my mom offered me the opportunity to play the piano or violin,” he said.

Dunaj chose the piano, which each year has brought him more and more enjoyment.

At school, he was active in band, performing with the wind symphony, Andrew’s top band, and also played with the jazz band. He left Andrew’s bands this year to devote more time to the CYSO.

“I enjoy working with musicians who are very confident and proficient with their chosen instrument. I get to perform with a group where everyone knows their music. The level of proficiency is so high,” he said.

Yes, he has to practice a lot to keep up with his peers at the CYSO, but that’s OK, Dunaj said.

“The time I invest means I’ll be better at what I do. The more I practice well, the better I get, and the better I get, the more doors open to other things,” he said.

One of those doors is college.

When he gets there, he wants to major in piano performance and music composition. Someday, he would like to be a concert pianist and composer.

“I’d like to work for the Chicago Symphony as a composer,” Dunaj said.

Dunaj, the son of Kim and John Dunaj, of Orland Hills, says that while his favorite classical composer is Tchaikovsky, he doesn’t have just one mentor.

“All of my teachers and the people I have worked with have mentored me but I don’t have a single mentor,” he said. “I don’t like having one single person I look up to. I want to be my own independent musician with my own independent creativity. Looking up to someone is counterproductive.”

To get where he wants to go, Dunaj knows he has to do it all himself.

“I know what I have to do, so I do it. If I don’t do it, nothing good will come out of it,” he said.



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