As well as teaching piano, I enjoy playing for band events in the area as a piano accompanist. No, I am not going to complain about the quality of the piano, late payments, or the difficulty of Gliere's horn concerto piano reduction. Instead, I want to highlight some amazing players from Frisco High School, located about 14 miles west of our studio in Allen.
My friend and colleague, Mike Wharton, who toured with me in The Kings Brass, recommended me to the FHS directors, but I was hesitant about playing for additional events around the same time as Allen High School's event. Since I'm always up for a challenge, I took on 22 students in addition to my 32 in Allen. Although I spent 3-4 hours a day learning scores, it was a huge payoff when I began rehearsals...especially with the french horns in Frisco!
Now, I know absolutely nothing about the french horn, except the transposition to concert pitch. So, this is not a post about how well they hit the "partials" but about the musicianship of the players. It is a pianist's dream to play for anyone (amateur or professional) that has an understanding of the whole score, not just their own part, and especially enjoys what they are playing. I knew immediately that they must all have an awesome teacher. After brief interviews with Drew Hayes and Annie Ratner, I learned that Hailey Hoops of the Dallas Symphony is a teacher to many in the section. Nathaniel Meeks, Abigail McCallum, and Kaleigh Gallant were the other great players I didn't have a chance to interview.
Also, the majority of the section is in the Wind Symphony of the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, which brings back memories of my days in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra. I know that experience was crucial to my development of an artist.
When I asked Drew and Annie who their greatest inspiration is, they both replied with "my dad", and I'm sure the they are quite proud of their accomplishments. Drew's father, Gregory Hayes happens to be the band director of the Wind Symphony at Frisco High School, which was "weird at first but really kind of great," according to Drew. His main goal in music to play at a level where everyone can enjoy the music he plays, and I think he has already met that one. He hopes to attend SMU or Texas Tech this fall to study the horn further, and hopefully we'll all hear him in a symphony someday! Annie's dream is to play for film scores, which was what I always wanted to do, too. It was cool finding out that we're mutual film soundtrack geeks!
I hope you've enjoyed reading about the Frisco horn section that I had the pleasure of making music with, because it was a memorable experience. I want this blog to be focused on celebrating other musicians, especially our piano/percussion students and the students I collaborate with. Quick shout out to two Euphonium players at FHS that also blew me away: Aubrey Worley and Zach Altman.
P.S. Euphonium is my new favorite band instrument (toss up with the bass clarinet)