Spotlight on Ariel Chen

Freshman Ariel Chen expresses herself through music, language and family.


Photo by Kaley Hamilton

Sydni Meyer

Art is what freshman Ariel Chen does best. Many students take language classes in high school in hopes of becoming bilingual, but Chen is coming into high school already speaking four languages.

Chen knows multiple languages so she can talk to her family. She is interested in French and Spanish, but her family speaks Chinese, Taiwanese and occasionally Japanese. Her parents are from Taiwan, so they speak multiple language.

“I’m fluent in Mandarin Chinese, with a little bit of Taiwanese and Japanese mixed in. I’m also taking Spanish and am learning French on my own,” Chen said.

Chen is also in orchestra and the Kansas City Youth Symphony. Stringed instruments really pull at freshman Ariel Chen’s heart strings.

“I started playing viola in fifth grade because I had an interest in stringed instruments,” Chen said. “Viola was unique and I wanted to play an interesting instrument. The viola is a really unknown instrument; most people don’t know about it too much. It was originally supposed to be played on the knee (da gamba style), but was later changed to be played on the shoulder. It’s got the strings of a cello (A, D, G, C) on a smaller body so the range is really different from both a violin and a cello.”

Chen plans to continue the viola and expand her music experience through challenging pieces.

“My parents encouraged me to play the piano and the interest of stringed instruments came from them,” Chen said.

Chen started to become more interested in piano, guitar and other string instruments.

“Orchestra has given me new opportunities and a different perspective on a lot of things,” Chen said. “I’ve met some really influential people and i’ve met a lot of new friends.”

Orchestra teacher Michelle Davis admires Chen’s effort and love for music.

“She stands out because she is such a hard worker and she practices a lot,” Davis said. “She goes the extra mile and is an over-achiever.”

She works hard on her music and other hobbies. When she participates in All-District, it helps her become a better player and perform in front of people.

“She is amazing,” freshman Morgan Caster said. “I don’t even know how to describe how good she is. She practices all the time. She’s trustworthy, dependable, and really helpful.”

Chen’s favorite memory from Orchestra would be performing at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center. She said it was a fun and unique experience.

Playing the viola isn’t Chen’s only interest. She also enjoys art forms like drawing, and photography.

“My parents are really supportive of my hobbies, and my dad does a lot of photography, which is what got me into art,” Chen said. “My mom was the one who encouraged me to do music, and I’m grateful for both opportunities. My parents encouraged me to play the piano and the interest of stringed instruments came from that.”