Richards student keys in on her piano talent
It’s a chant heard around the world, as parents beg their kids to put in the needed time on the musical instrument they are learning.
But every so often there come students who love practicing and don’t have to be told. One such student is Madeline Doon, a senior-to-be at Richards High School in Oak Lawn.
Ranked No. 1 in her class, Doon was born with an ear for music. She started playing piano in sixth grade but says she has always been able to read music.
“It is definitely my passion. I devote a lot of time to it. It is a lot of fun,” said Doon, 17, who earned Honors with Distinction, the highest academic honor a Community High School District 218 student can achieve.
She actually started in music in fifth grade, when she took up the flute, which she plays in marching band. She also plays the marimba.
“Of all of them, I love piano so much more because it is so much a richer sound. I like flute because you can hear how it fits in when you play with a band or ensemble,” Doon said.
She’s good, too, based on her achievements. Doon is a member of Richards’ Jazz Ensemble, which took first place in Class AA in the 2013 Herscher Swing and Sing Festival Jazz Band competition and was named grand champion in the jazz competition division. Individually, Doon was named best on the piano and best flute soloist at Herscher.
At the 2013 Illinois State Jazz Invitational, Richards’ Jazz Ensemble placed first in Class AA and was the overall grand champion of the two-day festival at Illinois State University. Doon was recognized as one of the five outstanding soloists on flute during the competition.
Back at Richards, she is a section leader for both the marching and jazz bands, is a member of the Encore Combo and plays the piano for show choir.
“I’m a workaholic,” Doon said. “There is not a day when I don’t want to practice. I like playing music. I play a lot of jazz music and I play classical and I improvise on the piano. There is not a day when I don’t play.”
There are moments when she does have some free time, however, and when she does, she plays chess.
“My dad taught me how to play when I was really young, but I only got into the chess club last year,” she said.
Not surprisingly, she didn’t have much time to fit chess club into her activities — until last year, that is. She joined and placed 10th nationally last year in the K-12 United States Chess Federation Nationals.
While she’s good at chess, she doesn’t love it like she does music.
“I will always prioritize music for sure, because with all these activities you have to set your priorities,” she said. “Chess is secondary but I always put as much effort into it as I can.
“I don’t practice at all for chess,” Doon said. “I got good at it naturally, but for music I spend an hour a day practicing outside of school or practice at school.”
Pushing her to greater achievements is Charles Martin, her band director at Richards.
“It wasn’t until I met him in high school that I got really serious about playing the piano and the flute,” Doon said. “He helped me to set priorities and he helped me with solving life problems. I like his outlook on life.”
As for Doon’s future, she had thought about going into musical therapy.
“But there is a really small job market for it. So I decided to go into pre-med and wing it from there. My mom is a nurse, so I’ve always liked the idea of going into the medical field,” Doon said.
Doon’s parents, Melodie and Rolando Doon, of Chicago Ridge, give Doon the structure and the freedom she needs to excel.
“My parents let me have free rein over how much I work,” she said. “They give me rides and help pay for the gas when I drive. My dad started me in music because he is a singer for church. I feel like I’m completing his dream. I feel honored that I get the opportunity to do this.”