After playing the trombone in school bands for six years, Brynn Haralson was ready for a change.
“I have hearing problems, which meant that I had a really hard time telling if I was in tune,” she said. “With the trombone, the sound was going (away from me), and I had a really hard time with that because I couldn’t tell if I needed to adjust or not.”
But after switching to the euphonium last year, Haralson re-embraced her love for music and the Washougal High School band program.
“I’m a lot better at (the euphonium),” said Haralson, a member of the school’s wind ensemble. “I now prefer it over the trombone. I think it has a better sound, and I usually get cooler parts to play. It’s louder, and the sound is going upward, so I can hear myself better. I don’t think I would’ve stayed in band if I didn’t switch. After I started taking classes at Clark College, I was going to drop band, but now that I’m playing the euphonium, I’m enjoying it so much that I wanted to stick around and work my work my schedule around being in the band.”
Haralson is one of 20 Washougal School District students scheduled to participate in the North County Honor Bands’ concert, which will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1 at Hockinson High School, 16819 N.E. 159th St., Brush Prairie.
Approximately 130 student musicians, representing eight high schools and 15 middle schools from the Battle Ground, Camas, Hockinson, La Center, Ridgefield, Washougal and Woodland school districts, were chosen for the honor bands. They were recommended by their band director and selected on the basis of their ability and accomplishments, according to a news release issued by the Hockinson School District.
The middle school honor band will be directed by Mark Lane, professor emeritus at Central Washington University. The high school honor band will be directed by Patrick Murphy, director of bands at the University of Portland.
In addition to Haralson, WHS is represented by Amara Farah (clarinet), Thomas Hein (trumpet), Grace Jacobsen (trumpet), Braxden Zumwalt (trumpet), Lexi Kneipp (flute), Mary Lendvoyi (flute), William Weihl (percussion), Spencer Perkins (percussion), Jace Poulsen (percussion), Hunter Thacker (baritone saxophone) and Hayden Zumwalt (trombone).
“Washougal has a really great music program,” Weihl said. “A lot of the other schools in the area have kind of lapsed on that, which is unfortunate. It’s rough. A lot of the middle school (programs) are good, but once (the students) get into middle school, they don’t have a lot of that support. But here we’re blessed because (band director Kelly) Ritter is a great director, all the middle school directors are good, we have great instruments and we have great music. It’s just a lot of fun to play music here.”
Farah a junior, plays clarinet for WHS’ wind ensemble and pep band, and piano for the school’s jazz band. She started playing the piano when she was a first-grader and took up the clarinet about five years ago. She takes private lessons in both instruments and plans to major in music in college.
“Band at WHS is pretty much everything to me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without it. Mrs. Ritter is an incredible director. Every day she teaches me not only about music, but about life. I look up to her greatly as a role model.”
Hein, a senior, serves as the top trumpet player in the school’s jazz band and wind ensemble, and as the president of the WHS band program. He started playing the trumpet when he was in the sixth grade.
“With the trumpet … You can be the melody, the show. (Being in band) really gives you a sense of community,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of people (in school bands) who I consider to be friends. I think if I wasn’t in the band, I would be far worse with my interpersonal skills and leadership skills.”
Jacobsen, a senior, is a member of the school’s wind ensemble, jazz band and pep band, and is the vice president of the WHS band program. She began playing the trumpet when she was in fifth grade.
“(Since then) I’ve learned to listen more, to be more together,” she said. “I joined jazz band sophomore year, and that really challenged me to adapt my sound to jazz and be able to really take more control of my instrument.”
Kneipp, a junior, has been playing the flute for seven years. She’s a member of the wind ensemble and jazz band.
“I just like the sound of the flute,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’ll give that a try,’ and over the years I’ve grown to like it more. I was proud to make symphonic band freshman year. That was a big thing for me because I had always just kind of floated the boat where it brought me. That’s when I decided to take a leap of faith to see if I could make it. And making it into the wind ensemble was good as well.”
Lendvoyi, a sophomore, is a relative newcomer to her instrument; she began playing the flute during the second semester of her eighth-grade year.
“My range has greatly improved,” said Lendvoyi, a member of the school’s wind ensemble. “Knowing how to really play music — not just play notes, but learning about the different levels of volume, the piano and forte, and the crescendoing, (has helped me) get better. I’m getting more confident with the instrument, and improving on my tone quality and sound. Everything’s basically improved.”
Weihl, a senior, has been a percussionist since he was in the sixth grade. He also has experience playing piano and guitar.
“(The drums are) really different than any other instrument, a completely different mechanism,” said Weihl, who plays with the school’s jazz band, wind ensemble and percussion ensemble. “When you’re playing percussion, you get to play so many instruments – you’re not stuck (with one thing) your whole life. You get to make a lot of noise and get a lot of really cool parts. I love everything about music — listening, playing. It’s what I enjoy the most out of life, honestly.”
Perkins, a senior, was introduced to rock music (“mostly Aerosmith,” he said) by his father, and has played the drums for about eight years.
“I really like the personal interpretation that you can put on music because I do a lot of different styles on my own,” said Perkins, a member of the school’s wind ensemble and jazz ensemble. “Just being able to really drive a song, or even writing my own music, being able to change how it sounds, or the mood of the music, through a couple of notes, is pretty amazing.”
Poulsen, a senior, plays drums for Northwest Gospel Church in Camas in addition to his responsibilities for the school’s wind and percussion ensembles.
“Before I could talk, I was always tapping on stuff, making play drum sets out of cups and pillows, and playing with pencils,” Paulsen said. “I started drum lessons when I was in second grade, and I saved up and bought an electric drum set for myself, and I just played and played and played. I could hear stuff and repeat it.”
After a broken arm caused an end to his brief trumpet-playing career, Thacker took up the saxophone as a sixth-grader, starting with alto, then switching to tenor before moving to baritone.
“In middle school, I didn’t ever practice ever,” he said. “Now I practice after school, over and over again, on different parts, either with jazz band or wind ensemble.”
Hayden Zumwalt has been a musician for some time (he started playing the piano as a first-grader), but has found his niche as a bass trombone player.
“With the bass bone, you have such a longer, deeper, lower range, and all the tones are nice and low down there,” he said.
The all-county middle-school band will include Washougal students Avery Berg (alto saxophone), Kyler Buck (clarinet), Justin Bryden (trombone), Lorelie Peck (bass clarinet), Danica Stinchfield (French horn), Jacob Kettelson (euphonium) and Barrett Justis (euphonium).