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And the band …played on

Moffat County High School graduate works to make his love of music a career

Rob Gebhart

It’s an iconic American image.

A little boy with a frown on his face plucking at piano keys under the watchful eye of his mother, while the sun shines on a warm summer day.

Lief Albaugh wasn’t like that. Encouraged by his parents, Archie and Dorcas of Craig, the Moffat County High School graduate started playing piano at age 5. He loved it.



“My mom was forced to put me in lessons because I liked it so much,” Albaugh said.

His dedication to music at that young age has paid off. Now 23 and a junior at the University of Southern California, Albaugh has traveled all over the country playing trombone with his school’s marching band. In January, he’ll fly to Hong Kong with a 30-piece band to perform in the Chinese New Year’s Parade.



Albaugh has long and slender pianist’s fingers. One can easily imagine them dancing across ivory keys. Indeed, the piano is his preferred instrument, but it’s basically impossible to march with one.

In sixth grade, inspired by a concert performance, Albaugh picked up the trombone — the long slide of brass that would become his primary instrument six years later when he decided to major in music education at USC. He said playing trombone came easily to him at first, but he didn’t practice much, unless it was for an ensemble performance or all-state band auditions.

That changed in college. The USC marching band practices 10 hours a week, on weekdays and Saturdays, developing a new 10-minute show for each home game. That means memorizing new songs and new marching drills.

Albaugh was fortunate enough to pick a school with a good football team. His freshman year, he appeared with the marching band in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Albaugh, a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints, took two years off of school after that to serve a mission in Taiwan Kaohsiung Mission. He entered a mission training center in Provo, Utah, where he studied the Mandarin language and Taiwanese culture. His studies will pay off again when he returns to the Far East to play in Hong Kong in January


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