Craig From a weekend in Aspen with 10 of his band mates, Moffat County High School student Tucker Trujillo will remember one thing above all else.
The F scale.
“It’s my favorite scale now,” he said. “Because I nailed it. I mean, it was so perfect.”
His “perfect” audition landed the junior his first “first chair” assignment at the 2009 honor band in Aspen during the weekend, meaning he was the best trombonist of the group.
John Bolton, Moffat County High School band director took 11 band students to Aspen on Friday to participate in the Colorado Music Educators Association honor band for Northwest Colorado.
More than 75 students and band directors were involved in the event, which includes rehearsals and performances that challenge a chosen group of band students from across the region.
“We get to get out of school,” Trujillo said. “And the bus rides are the best.”
But for Trujillo, honor band is much more than a social event.
It’s a chance to be challenged and compete at a higher level.
For the past two years, Trujillo was placed at sixth chair, which wasn’t good enough for him.
He told Bolton if he didn’t earn first chair this year, he could be found along Colorado Highway 82, hitchhiking his way back to Craig.
“I knew I was better than that,” he said. “But I was really nervous when I got there.”
He said opportunities like honor band and the February All-State conference in Denver were important recognition for the work that he and his fellow band mates put into their instruments.
“It lets people in Craig know there is something more than just football going on,” he said. “There’s more than sports.”
Sophomore Amie Chadwick has been involved with honor band for two years, and said it’s always an “awesome” experience.
“It’s kind of like an escape,” she said. “It’s a challenge. It’s nice getting to see my friends from other schools and hang out with them. I was just glad to be there.”
But at the end of the day, it was the chance to play unique and challenging music that will keep Chadwick applying for honor band for years to come.
“You get to play a whole lot,” she said. “You get to miss school and play music, and that’s what I love.”
The students arrived early Friday morning to cold mountain weather and a long day of auditions.
They tried out for their individual sections, which were directed by band directors from across the region. Bolton directed the clarinet section and said he was pleasantly surprised by his section’s performance by Saturday morning.
“They just came in and really congealed,” he said. “Everything was right.”
While the musicians were either eating or sleeping in their hotel when they weren’t playing, Trujillo said there was plenty of time to make lasting memories.
“I have so many memories of it,” he said. “I’ll always remember being a freshmen and going with all of the seniors. It’s a way to get to know them and learn all the tricks of the trade. This year, I’ll remember getting first chair.”
He said the close-knit atmosphere of the band community has made his high school years enjoyable and that he owes a lot of that to Bolton’s leadership.
“He’s a lot more than a director,” he said. “Sometimes we jokingly call him Dad. But this really is my second family. I love band; it’s my life.”
While he does like to poke fun at his students, like telling Trujillo he’d never speak to him again if he didn’t make first chair, Bolton knows when to stop joking and tell his students he’s proud of each and every one of them.
“The concert Saturday night was just so well-executed,” he said. “Our clarinetist, Kyra (McClellan), had a solo and she just played beautifully.”
He said the director-run weekend was a testament to the strength of the high school band community throughout the state.
When the band program is allowed the time and funds to expand their horizons beyond Craig, he said amazing learning opportunities present themselves.
“It is just evidence that when we’re left to our own devices, we can do marvelous things,” he said.
Nicole Inglis can be reached at 875-1793, or firstname.lastname@example.org.