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Local young musicians are getting their shot to play with a symphony
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Liam Dougall, 10, practices piano at his home on Friday, March 8, 2019. Liam will be playing in the The North Georgia Chamber Symphony's Young People's Concert at Westminister Church on Saturday, March 16, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

Liam Dougall’s introduction to music came early — so early, he can’t remember it.

The 10-year-old pianist’s parents almost always had classical music playing around the house as he has grown up.

“It definitely was important, and it definitely was intentional,” said Jeanine Dougall, Liam’s mother. “We just felt that music was something that just enhances the way you see the world. It stirs different things in you — emotions. And it gets you thinking in abstract ways and creatively.”

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Liam Dougall, 10, sits at his piano at home on Friday, March 8, 2019. Liam will be playing in the The North Georgia Chamber Symphony's Young People's Concert at Westminister Church on Saturday, March 16, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

Now, he’s introducing everything he’s learned at the first-ever Young People's Concert.

Even from a young age, Dougall could tell Liam had a knack for music. She said when he was around 2 years old, she caught him conducting along with the music that was playing in their home.

“He really enjoys it,” Dougall said of her son. “And I think it’s one of those instinct-type things for him.”

Now, instead of conducting at their home in Cumming, Liam will be on stage performing two movements with a professional symphony.

The North Georgia Chamber Symphony is presenting the free concert — featuring four local young musicians younger than 18 — at 3 p.m. March 16 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, which will include some music specifically chosen for a young audience.

Young People’s Concert

When: 3 p.m. Saturday, March 16

Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church. 1397 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: Free

More info: bettyflorence@windstream.net  

He said he’s ready and has been practicing for about 30 minutes each day since he was invited to take part in the concert.

“I’m definitely ready,” Liam said. “But I think I may have to work on the dynamics a little more.”

Dougall said Liam enjoys teaching other people. Although Liam’s father, Jonathon, already knows how to play piano, Liam often asks if he can teach him and his mother how to play.

“Whenever I teach somebody, it just makes me feel like, when they learn and they feel happy, it makes me feel happy,” Liam said.

Laurin Smith, music director for the North Georgia Chamber Symphony, wants more children to feel that way. That’s the reason he decided to start the Young People’s Concert and hopes it becomes an annual event.

“It’s an exciting thing for a young person to be able to play a solo with a professional orchestra,” Smith said. “We want to inspire these young people to go further in their musical lives and inspire other young people to take up piano or violin and see what they can do with it.”

Smith said most children have been offered music classes in schools but don’t truly get to see what it looks like in the real world. He wants the Young People’s Concert to change that.

For children who come out to the concert, he’s hoping it “might inspire them to participate in some of those programs.”

Liam took advantage of those programs and has been getting private lessons for a few years. All the practice and training he’s had has made him confident as he performs.

“He doesn’t really get nervous,” Dougall said. “He loves to perform. When he has to give a speech at school, that’s a different story. But when he’s performing, he gets excited about it, so I think it just brings him joy and it’s never been a chore or anything like that for him.”

And even though he’s been learning for a few years, Liam never thought he’d be in the position he is now.

“I was very surprised they asked me to play,” Liam said. “I was mind-blown.”

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Liam Dougall, 10, practices piano at his home on Friday, March 8, 2019. Liam will be playing in the The North Georgia Chamber Symphony's Young People's Concert at Westminister Church on Saturday, March 16, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele
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