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Shaker freshman balances multiple musical interests

How many 14-year-olds do you know play seven different instruments and still maintain a high grade point average? More importantly, how many of them can play the bagpipes?

Meet Allyson Crowley-Duncan, a freshman at Shaker High School who has a laundry list of instruments she performs with, which include voice, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, piano and the bagpipes.

She began her musical endeavors at age 7, when she started playing piano, but she has been singing her entire life. Allyson said she started with the piano because teachers would not take younger students for singing lessons.

They said, 'Wait until she's 13 and her voice is at a consistent spot,' she said. "But it's been the same since I was 10."

Now she is one of the youngest members of the St. Rose Women's Chorale group as a community member. Her mother, Justine Crowley-Duncan, said it gives her daughter a lot more singing time.

Allyson is now discovering that she'll need even more practice with the piano if she wants to get into a school for music because it is a requirement that they be able to accompany themselves with a different instrument.

Crowley-Duncan joked that bagpipes wouldn't really work out.

"Her voice teacher has got her playing piano again saying, 'If you're going to be auditioning to get into music schools, you need to be better at the piano," said Crowley-Duncan.

"You need to have a good piano background," added Allyson.

One instrument she begged her mother play, though, was the alto saxophone.

"She wanted to make the jazz band when she got to junior high," said Crowley-Duncan. "So we borrowed a sax from a friend who said, 'We'll never need it again.' And two days before her audition, he said he needed it back. So we needed to run out and get a saxophone because we knew that this was one of her interests."

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