Freshman makes first chair trumpet at area

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Matt Bolden

Freshman Reagan Wagner practices playing her trumpet in the school courtyard. Wagner plays in the Wind Symphony, the highest band at the high school.

Editor’s Note: Number of schools in the competition updated to all 5A schools in the state. 

Freshman trumpet player Reagan Wagner recently placed first chair in the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) area competition after auditioning from Jan. 9-13 and receiving results on Jan.17.

“I found out my area results from a friend of mine, and I was absolutely shocked when she told me,” Wagner said. “I almost didn’t believe it. I couldn’t quit smiling, and I felt so proud of the fact that the countless number of hours I spent up in my room drilling and practicing paid off.”

In preparation for the area audition, Wagner spent hours practicing and refining the etude excerpts.

“Reagan has been practicing for two plus hours a day to prepare this audition since the music was released in July,” assistant band director Daniel King said. “She also takes a private lesson for an hour a week with a trumpet teacher and received help from the band teachers on Zoom and in person on multiple occasions. It takes a lot of work to get as far as she has.”

The area competition receives auditions from hundreds of high school students of all grade levels from all 5A schools in the state.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to make it very far in the competitions at all,” Wagner said. “Because I play a popular instrument, there’s a lot of competition for chairs in the bands. Not only that, but I knew I was also competing against upperclassmen who have years more experience than I do. 

This year’s competition took place virtually as a safety measure for COVID-19.

“Students recorded themselves playing the required ‘cuts’ of the etudes on TMEA-provided software, which only allowed them to keep one take at a time,” Wagner said. “If you didn’t like the take, you were forced to either submit or discard it. The cuts became longer as you progressed through the competition, making it tougher to submit a perfect recording. This was frustrating for me, but I got really good at managing stress over the course of three months.”

Wagner hopes to continue pursuing trumpet throughout high school and improving her skills.

“Reagan practices a lot and takes information well so she will continue to grow,” band director Paul Heuer said. “She is naturally a musical player and when coupled with work ethic, you have the magic combination to be constantly improving.”