Middle Park student headed for All-State Band
March 15, 2017
Success, especially when it is the result of hard work and dedication, is a thing worth celebrating. We cheer high school seniors at their graduation and feel a deep sense of pride when one of our young athletes reaches great heights in competitive sports. But sometimes forgotten in the fanfare of high-profile student activities are the more quiet successes; no less remarkable, though often less remarked upon.
In mid December, Middle Park High School student Connor Life was selected to participate in this year's All-State Band. The achievement is substantial and highlights Life's hard work and talent that combined to allow him to secure a spot on the state's most prestigious high school musical ensemble. Life is a sophomore at Middle Park and is the first chair trumpet player in the high school band.
The young teen was encouraged to try out for All-State Band after he attended an Honor Band event in November. "The guest director for the Honor Band was the one who would be holding the All-State auditions," Life said. "Prior to that I didn't even know All-State was a thing."
After wrapping up Honor Band, Life discovered the All-State auditions were roughly one month away. "I decided I would tryout anyway," he said. "Everyone else had been preparing for months. During the audition I didn't feel like I was doing that well. But when the list came out my name was on it."
“It was awesome. I didn’t really expect to make it since I barely had any time to get the music ready, but I was really glad I did.” Connor Life
For his audition Life played a series of small excerpts from various songs.
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"One was a waltzy lyrical song. Another was fast and a march. We played a few scales. There was also a sight reading piece where they put something in front of us and said, 'go ahead and play that," he said.
Life's truncated preparation schedule meant he had to cram quite a bit of practice into the few weeks between Honor Band and his All-State audition.
"I was pretty nervous," he said with a chuckle. "I had practiced a lot so I wasn't terrified it was going to go awful. But it was definitely tension filled."
For his audition Life sat in a small room with the All-State Band director and performed. "It was just him and me sitting at a little table," he said. "They just have you sit down and play your stuff." Life's tryout for All-State Band was held in late November.
After trying out, Life mostly pushed the event to the back of his mind on the assumption that he would not be selected to participate. Over Christmas break though his fellow Middle Park Band member Ana Makowski saw the results and broke the good news to Connor.
"It was awesome," he said with a beaming smile. "I didn't really expect to make it since I barely had any time to get the music ready, but I was really glad I did."
Towards the end of this month, Life will go to Greeley to participate in the All-State Honor Band Weekend. The Colorado Music Educators Association, Colorado High School Activities Association and the University of Northern Colorado School of Music in Greeley administer the All-State Band program. Life said he would go and participate in a series of three rehearsal days at the end of which an All-State Concert will be held.
According to information taken from the All-State website, the band accepts only 110 members. All-State Band students are drawn from all high schools in the state with less than 1,100 total students.
Life has been a musician and school band member since sixth-grade. Initially starting out on the tuba, Life switched to trumpet towards the end of his junior high career, citing the added excitement that comes with playing trumpet over the more repetitive performances that are common with tubas. Starting in eighth-grade band director Brad Pregeant began bringing Life to the high school on occasions to have the youngster perform alongside more advanced high school students.
Unlike some of his fellow band members, Life does not, at this stage in his life, plan to pursue music as a full-time career. He said he expects to continue his involvement to some extant through college, in hopes of tapping into scholarship opportunities, but was uncertain if he would major in music or performing arts. For Life, being in band, and trying out for All-State and Honor Bands, is also about his deep love of music.
"For me, it's really just about the music," he said.