McQueen High School Orchestra

Last Call for Senior Profiles!

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And this…is Joshua Matthew Plateros!


We would like to now introduce you to Joshua Matthew Plateros.  Josh is a 17 year old senior in the amazing McQueen Orchestra.  Josh plays the cello. He is a Reno native, and an alum of Rollan Melton Elementary School and Billinghurst Middle School.

Josh has been playing the cello for four years and credits the Finnish metal band Apocalyptica with inspiring him.  Who is the Finnish metal band Apocalyptica you ask?  They are a metal band that play cellos.  If you listen to them, you will want to start playing the cello too.  In addition to the inspiration found in Apocalyptica, Josh says, “I chose it because I dislike all of the other instruments in Orchestra. The cello is the only cool one in my opinion.”

Josh’s favorite thing about being part of the orchestra is “the wide variety of people and personalities that make the orchestra fun and unique!”  His favorite orchestra memory is “getting Wing Stop before the zone concert.”  We have a feeling there is a good story here and maybe Josh will tell you if you ask him.

Josh says the hardest thing about being a musician is “constant self-doubt.” Despite this self-doubt, Josh would tell someone thinking of giving up music to “take all those negative thoughts and fill them with positive thoughts! Self-doubt is much more heart-breaking than failure.”  True that!

Josh says his favorite musician is “Damien Rice because he’s Irish and he makes good folk music.”  He says he is also musically inspired by “Glen Hansard because he’s Irish and makes good fold music but just not as well as Damien Rice.”

Josh hopes and plans to keep playing the cello after high school.  “Hopefully in the Reno Pops Orchestra and Reno Video Game Symphony.”

Josh’s career plans are undecided and we’ve got to say we love that about him.  He says, “career wise I am undecided but I hopefully will do something in the music or arts field.”  Mostly he says that when he grows up his goal is to be “inspirational”.  He also would like to “own a nice castle with 3 Corgis and one Shiba Inu.”

He is also involved in other activities which include “eating food and playing my harmonica. Playing the guitar and ukulele are also fun but mainly food.”

As for his senior year, he wants to “make as many friends and enjoy every minute of it.”

When asked if there was anything else Josh wanted to say to the world he said the following:  “I love to learn as many instruments as I can and music is basically the only thing I’m okay at. The only ice cream I love is Coffee flavored but all the other flavors are okay. Sherbet ice cream is a definite no-go. I only like indie-pop, indie-folk, and a little sprinkle of indie-rock music. Ashlea R. Kammann has a nice fashion sense almost as good as mine. Most of today’s music gives me a headache and makes me lose hope in the music industry. I am in urgent need of a banjo.”  

Josh’s one word to describe himself as a musician is “Spectacular“.

Seriously…how much do we love this kid?  Congratulations Josh and thank you for sharing your music with us!









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And this…is Christian Arnold!

“Hi my name is Christian Arnold, I am 18 and I’m a senior here at McQueen. I have lived in Reno my whole life and I went to Verdi Elementary school where Mr. Baker was the orchestra director.

I started learning violin in fourth grade and Mrs. Neidhold was my private teacher, which made it really fun to have her as my orchestra director at Billinghurst as well. I first started playing the violin because my older brother Dallin was just starting to learn and we did everything together, so it seemed natural and logical that I would start as well, although because he was learning the viola I wanted to learn the violin.

Orchestra has been a huge blessing in my life for many reasons but mainly because of the amazing friends and memories I have made while in it. Orchestra people are the most easy-going and friendly people you will ever meet and I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by these great people constantly and because of this I plan on continuing to play in some kind of orchestra as I attend BYU.

Orchestra, however, has not always been an easy ride. There have been many occasions when in my violin and piano studies I have wanted to put my instrument down and never touch it again, but thank goodness my parents didn’t let me do that and made me continue learning and playing. To anyone who is having similar feelings or will feel this way at some point, I would say you will never regret learning an instrument. There will be times when you feel that you are incapable of doing anything with your instrument well and it feels like a lost cause, but this is a natural part of learning something new and something hard and when those feeling pass, playing your instrument will be a joy and a huge part of your life. This is probably the hardest thing about being a musician.

Music is an art, and with any type of art, it is very hard and discouraging to begin because it is unnatural and there is no way to just be naturally good at something like that. It is necessary to fail in order to become better, and as a result it can be very difficult to continue learning and put aside those feelings. But there is also nothing as fulfilling at overcoming these emotions and excelling in the thing that you learn to love.

Becoming a musician takes countless hours of work and a lot of determination but I know that for me, it has been one of the most rewarding things I could have done and I am incredibly grateful for all of the friends, directors, and loved ones who have helped me discover this gift.”


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We would also like you to meet Samuel Webster!



Samuel Webster is an 18 year old senior in the McQueen Orchestra.  Sam is Reno native.  He went to Westergard and Billinghurst.  Sam plays the violin.  And we are going to let you in on a little secret…Sam can conduct the orchestra while dressed as an alien!  Sam was the “little green man” leading the orchestra in one of our favorite songs, “The Rosin Eating Zombies From Outer Space.”

Sam discovered the violin in 5th grade at an exploratory strings program at Westergard Elementary School.  He credits Ms. Dickens from Westergard with introducing him to the violin.  Sam always knew the violin was the instrument for him.  “I just like it better than anything else.”  He thinks the violins get the best parts of the music.

Sam likes being a member of the orchestra because “it expands my musical career more than it would if I did it myself.”  He credits his fellow musicians with making him better and work harder than he would if they weren’t depending on him.  One of his best orchestra memories is the Utah trip.  “Going out of state to play for orchestra was pretty fun.I was very proud when we got a 2.  I wasn’t expecting that.

Sam says the hardest thing about being a musician is finding the time.  “For me personally the hardest thing is scheduling.  Having a job and having an orchestra schedule can be hard to balance.”   Throw in some AP classes and other orchestras and that is a challenge indeed.  Sam is also a member of the Reno Philharmonic’s Youth Concert Orchestra.  He says he would tell a young student considering giving up to “just keep practicing or try a different instrument.  Keep trying.  Don’t let your dreams become dreams.

Sam says the most musically influential person in his life is Mr. Baker.  “In Chamber he [Mr. Baker] is one on one trying to help each student improve.”  He also says his mother has been very influential.  “She forces me to practice.

All of Sam’s favorite musicians are violinists.  He says it is a “competition between David Garrett, Lindsay Stering and  Alexander Ryback.”  He especially likes Alexander Ryback.  “He is a Russian violinist who can sing and play the violin at the same time.”

Sam is college bound and wants to be a chemist and a musician.  He plans to keep playing music after high school.  First however, he says his goal is to “pass” high school.


Sam says he really doesn’t want to say anything else about himself.  We get that.  Those of us who know Sam well know that he is humble, kind and gentle.

As a musician he describes himself with one work…”Amazing“.

Good Luck Sam!  Thank you for sharing your music and your spirit with us!  And for being willing to be the Rosin Eating Zombie From Outer Space!


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And this is Michelle Vasquez!



We would like you to meet Michelle Vasquez. Michelle is a senior in the McQueen Orchestra.  She plays the violin.  Michelle is 17 and went to Westergard and Billinghurst. She has been playing the violin for seven years.  Miss Michelle has a gentle spirit and we kind of love her.

Michelle was introduced to the violin in sixth grade.  When asked if she picked the violin or the violin picked her she says it was a little bit of both. “I remember on the first week of sixth grade Mrs. Neidhold played a little of each instrument in order to help us decide which one each of us was to play. When she began to play the violin in front of our class I remember being automatically attracted to the beautiful sounds coming from it. She played with a kind of ease and joy that I wanted to recreate in the future.  I knew at that moment that I was going to be a violinist.”

Michelle’s favorite aspect of the orchestra is working with her fellow musicians.  “I love the friends that I’ve made in orchestra and I’ve always loved that in orchestra there is a sense of community that I believe is very strong.”  She has a lot of orchestra memories.  “I have many great orchestra memories! But I think my two favorites would be definitely the Utah trip because it was such a new experience that I’ll never forget and my 8th grade trip to Six Flags in Vallejo because it was my first fun yet disastrous trip with my best friend Carolyn Jones!

Miss Michelle says that being a musician isn’t always easy.  The hardest thing about being a musician according to Michelle is “Motivation. Especially the motivation to practice.”  But somehow she finds that motivation.  When asked what she would tell someone thinking about giving up their violin Michelle would tell them, “giving up should never be an option and to always remember that even a little bit of practice goes a long way.

Michelle’s favorite musician is Lorde.  “I’m a big fan of all of her music and I especially love the lyrics of her songs as well as how tranquil they are!” 

Miss Michelle has many people who influence her life.  She says, “my friends and family are most influential in my life. Carolyn is my best friend who’s always been there for me and we always have fun both in orchestra and outside of orchestra! She makes me smile with her insanely happy self everyday! Also Jake has been there for me as well and is always a great person to talk to about anything! Lastly, my brother Eric is influential to me because he inspires me with his passion for the cello and his amazing ability with music!” 

Like so many of our musicians, Michelle is has the heart of an artist.  “I love to also create art from drawing, to painting, and even sculpting. I can’t get enough of it!”  Michelle plans to carry her love of the arts with her as she moves into her future.  She is hoping to study art and ultimately work in animation.  “I want to be an animator and one day create animated movies for Disney.”  We think with Michelle’s gentle spirit and quiet confidence she will be an amazing animator and we look forward to her first Disney production.

She hopes to keep playing music after high school.  “Music has made a big impact in my life and I’ll definitely continue to play music.”   For now though, “my goals are to pass my AP test and make the most of this year with my friends.”

The one word Miss Michelle would use to describe herself as a musician is “Cheerful“! We agree.

Congratulations on an amazing high school music career Michelle!




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This is The Amazing Carolyn Jones!

We would like you to meet Carolyn Jones.  Carolyn is a 17-year-old violinist in the McQueen Orchestra.  Miss Carolyn is an alumnus of Rollan Melton and Billinghust Middle School.  She is from Reno, Nevada and we consider ourselves “lucky” to know her!




Carolyn started playing the violin in sixth grade so this is her seventh year playing. Carolyn says, “we had to do either choir, band, or orchestra in middle school and I picked orchestra. I picked orchestra because I thought it sounded better than band and because I’m a bad singer.”  She picked the violin.  “I knew that I wanted to play the violin because of its higher pitch and because it just looked fun to play!”

Carolyn loves the orchestra.  “My favorite thing about orchestra is all the awesome people there are! I’ve made so many new friends in orchestra that I probably wouldn’t have met if I wasn’t in orchestra.”  She said her favorite orchestra memory is the infamous Utah trip.  “All my friends in orchestra went and it was so much fun to go to a different city and play music! It was a great experience!”

Her favorite band is Mumford and Sons.  “I love them because they create music that is very meaningful yet fun to listen to and sing along with! I love all the instruments they play!! The banjo, acoustic guitar, piano, double bass, just all of it!”  We tend to agree.

Miss Carolyn is one of the most genuinely happy members of the McQueen Orchestra and her smile is infectious.  Her laugh is too.  But she recognizes it isn’t always easy.  “The hardest part of being a musician is motivation. Sometimes there will be music that is hard to play and you just want to give up. It is hard to keep trying but being a musician has taught me not to give up no matter how hard something is!”  When asked what advice she would give a struggling string student she said, “I would tell the student that giving up is the worst thing they can do. Things may be difficult at first but the rewards that you will receive later on will make you forget all the pain and difficulty it took to get there!”

The most important people in Carolyn’s life are her friends and her family.  She says,

“The most influential people in my life are my family and my best friend Michelle Vasquez. My family has supported me in everything I do and I am so thankful for that! I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. My best friend Michelle has also always been there for me. She is also in orchestra and it is just great to be able to hang out with someone who understands me and accepts me for who I am no matter what!!!”

Carolyn played varsity soccer in the fall and is also in the guitar class at McQueen.  In fact, Carolyn has played soccer for a long time.  Some of us were even present at a recital not too many years ago where Carolyn came straight from a soccer game and played her song beautifully in her soccer uniform, shin guards and all.

Miss Carolyn has big plans for her future.  “I want to be an architect. I want to design houses and other structures! I might even design energy-efficient buildings! Yay!!!”  But first she is looking to have a memorable senior year, spend a lot of time with her friends and pass her AP tests.  Beyond that, “my goals for the future are to become an architect who can make the world a little bit better. I also like making people happy so I want to try to spread my happiness to everyone I meet!!!”  Somehow we think those are very achievable goals for Miss Carolyn.  It can even be argued that she has alredy succeeded.

Carolyn plans to keep playing music after high school.  “I love music so much and I can’t imagine not having it in my life!”

Miss Carolyn would also like to let the world, and in particular a certain cute Quarterback in Indianapolis, know that she is a dedicated Colts fan.  She is a girl after our own football loving hearts.  When asked if there is anything else she wanted to say about herself she said this:

” I would like to say that I am a huge Indianapolis Colts fan. Like HUGE. Like I’m obsessed with them!!! I love football a lot and love to watch it with my family. I am also in love with the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, Andrew Luck. He is someone who really inspires me because he has done so many things that I want to do and because he likes so many things that I like! I am so obsessed with him that I have posters of him in my room and one of them is  life-sized!!      6′ 4″!!!!”  All we can say is Andrew Luck is “lucky” to have Miss Carolyn in his corner.  We hope he knows that.  Because he should know that.

andrew luck

Carolyn’s one word to describe herself as a musician is “Exuberant!!!”  We would have to agree!

Good “Luck” Miss Carolyn.  Don’t go too far because we will be hitting you up for Andrew Luck stats next Fantasy Football season.