Rachel Butzke: The Life of a Competitive Violinist

Senior Rachel Ann Butzke has been playing the violin since elementary school, and began competitively playing when she was in middle school.  Butzke said that she was drawn to the violin by the music it could make.

Rachel said that her initial introduction to the instrument inspired her to strive for greatness.

“I heard one of the symphony members play a Bach solo and I was mesmerized by his playing," Rachel said. "I told myself that I wanted to play just like him, or even better."

Rachel said that practicing for about two hours a day has improved her technique.

“The type of practice I do most is technique practice," Rachel said. "Having good technique is the basic need for violin playing. Of course I practice actual music, but technique practice is most important.”

Rachel has had a professional coach train her to play the violin since the sixth grade. She maintained that coach until her freshman year and then moved on to a professor from New Mexico State University (NMSU). She will attend NMSU in the fall and intends to continue to learn to play the violin under his wing.

“I will not stop violin," Rachel said. "I think I would die if I didn’t play, and I also wouldn’t know what to do with my life. The violin is my life and passion.”

Rachel said that the sensations she has while making music are what keep her so attached to the instrument to this day.

“I think the best part, and this might sound cliché, is the way I get to experience music and the way music makes me feel,” Rachel said. “Being able to play a piece of music perfectly is a rush and it gives you a feeling of accomplishment, and the way it can make you feel while playing it is something I can’t quite put into words accurately. It’s a feeling of joy and happiness that flows through me, and to be able to feel the way the composer felt while writing this piece is a thrill.”


Rachel said that she realized that music is her dream when she got to play her instrument on a larger scale.

“The moment I played with a full symphony orchestra was when I knew I wanted this to be my life,” Rachel said. “In 8th grade I played with the EPSYO (El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestras) in one of their lower groups, then in my freshmen year I made the top group.”

Rachel performed with the All Region Orchestra, and has made the top group during each of her four years in high school.

Rachel hopes to continue to improve her violinist skills in college and expand her horizons to include a bigger stage.