Casey Brooks had spent the final seven years, almost two-fifths of her life, working for that six-minute music. Beneath the intense auditorium lights at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Mo., in entrance of the most important crowd of her life, the Pacific Excessive Faculty senior took a deep breath, positioned her glimmering flute to her lips and blew out.
On the finish of the music, she smiled triumphantly, figuring out she’d performed the piece the very best she ever had.
“I felt like I’d be content material with regardless of the final result would have been,” Brooks stated.
The efficiency was not solely probably the most seen, but in addition crucial of Brooks’ life to date. Later that night, she discovered the music had earned her a full-ride scholarship value round $100,000 to review music at Central Methodist College, the place she is going to attend subsequent fall.
Brooks didn’t know she would find yourself auditioning for a spot in a music program when she first picked up the flute as a sixth-grader. When her now-teacher Erin Delmain got here to her classroom in fifth grade to introduce the scholars to the totally different devices, Brooks spent nearly no time deciding which she would pursue.
“I instantly linked with the flute,” she remembered.
Brooks practiced and carried out all through center faculty, however she stated it wasn’t till she acquired to highschool that she began striving to play professionally.
“You might inform she was taking it very significantly,” Band Director Matt Sokeland stated. “There are children who’re actually gifted, and there are children who work actually arduous. The particular factor is whenever you get these youngsters who’re actually gifted and work actually arduous.”
As a result of the band at Pacific Excessive Faculty is so giant, the lessons are cut up right into a senior-junior group and a sophomore-freshman group. Hoping to supply an additional problem, Sokeland positioned Brooks within the junior-senior group beginning her freshman yr. It was there that she befriended senior flautist Emma Bushery.
“I bear in mind feeling like a lone wolf and never having anybody to speak to, and he or she completely took me in. She requested me to be in an ensemble along with her and helped me a lot,” Brooks stated of her mentor. “When she graduated, I needed to be similar to her and be as type to different college students who had been becoming a member of band.”
Her dedication to the instrument revved up when as a sophomore, Brooks made second chair within the eight-school 4 Rivers Convention Band after two years of auditioning and never getting chosen. Throughout her first yr in that group, she additionally auditioned for the District Honor Band, which selects from almost 30 space colleges and is run by the Missouri Music Educators Affiliation.
When she didn’t make the reduce for that group her sophomore yr, she stated she was upset, however not discouraged.
“She’s completely the form of one who will get motivated by setbacks,” stated Brooks’ mother, Beth Brooks. Brooks auditioned for the district group once more as a junior and was provided a spot.
An enormous a part of her coaching, Brooks stated, has been discovering a follow schedule that works for her and retains her motivated. Whereas she used to log all her hours throughout center faculty, she now simply tries to dedicate time each different day.
“I love to do various things on totally different days. Sooner or later I’ll follow my tone and scales rather a lot and the following I’ll do method,” she stated. “It’s simpler for me to do it that manner as an alternative of each single day.
In the course of the faculty yr, when she’s getting ready for ensembles, faculty live shows and auditions, Brooks is working to grasp wherever from six to fifteen songs directly. She’s additionally a flautist with JazzU, a music training and efficiency program run by Jazz St. Louis.
“Music is my favourite factor to do,” Brooks stated. “I don’t have many different hobbies. I like studying and writing, however music is linked to that.”
Though the flute is Brooks’ strongest love, it was not her first. She began enjoying guitar at 7 years previous, and guitar is what led her to becoming a member of Pacific Excessive Faculty’s jazz band as a freshman. She quickly determined that jazz guitar wasn’t for her, and was on the verge of quitting the group when she and Sokeland had one other thought: play a unique instrument.
“I nonetheless actually liked enjoying jazz music, so I began studying the alto saxophone,” she stated.
“We attempt to push them, particularly the youngsters who might find yourself finding out music or changing into a band director, to be taught totally different devices as a result of that can assist them,” Sokeland stated.
Round two years in the past, Pacific Excessive Faculty created a second jazz band with the rule that any pupil who needed to be in each needed to play a unique instrument. That rule is what led Brooks to studying the trumpet, her first non-woodwind instrument except for the guitar.
Selecting up that (fourth) instrument was arduous as a result of it’s a different mouthpiece and (talent set) for brass devices, but it surely was nonetheless simpler than it will have been had I gone straight from flute to trumpet,” Brooks stated.
The power to select up a second instrument isn’t the one profit to music training for youngsters. Researchers have talked for many years of the optimistic influence music has on cognitive functioning and on emotional wellbeing. The Faculty Entrance Examination Board beforehand reported that public faculty college students concerned in music applications scored 107 factors larger on the SATs than college students who weren’t concerned, and the U.S. Division of Schooling stated college students who play music by center and highschool are more adept in math by grade 12 than their nonmusical friends.
Notes on the Future
On the day Brooks auditioned for the full-ride scholarship, she was nervous and excited for one among her first public performances in a yr after a spring of cancellations. The music she selected for the ultimate spherical audition, “Andante et Scherzo” by Louis Ganne, was one she’d initially rehearsed for the MSHSAA spring 2020 District Music Competition earlier than it was canceled amid COVID-19. It was one of many hardest items in her repertoire, however she hoped enjoying it effectively would set her aside.
“I like difficult myself with songs as a result of that’s how I get higher,” she stated. “(This music) has a whole lot of tempo adjustments, and there’s a whole lot of method. There’s a bit in the course of the music the place I do double tonguing, which is mainly saying ‘ta ka ta ka ta ka ta ka’ in a short time. You must deal with having a wealthy tone in addition to working by these actually tough passages with fast fingers.”
She knew she wanted to nail the piece, however within the moments earlier than she took the stage, she confirmed no indicators of stress.
“You might inform she was locked in and felt comfy,” Sokeland stated. “She actually appeared to be having fun with herself.”
Because the final be aware light, Brooks knew that she’d performed the music higher than she ever had earlier than.
“It was the very best feeling on the planet,” she recalled. “It’s simply very nice when all of the arduous work pays off.”
When the scholarships had been introduced later that night, Beth Brooks stated she couldn’t cease crying when her daughter was named as one among two full-ride winners. Brooks acquired to have a good time with Sokeland and with fellow band member Kelsey Mathenia, who gained $12,500 to attend the college.
As Brooks enters the final semester of a senior yr not like something she’d imagined, she stated she’s positive finding out music is the one alternative for her.
“I feel music connects all people. Nothing brings individuals collectively greater than music,” she stated. “So I feel it’s good when individuals attempt to review and turn out to be professionals and train it as a result of it’s one thing that folks take as a right.”
Brooks stated the arduous work gained’t cease now that she’s gotten accepted to a college. Though the 2020 All-District Band efficiency was canceled because of COVID-19, Brooks was accepted and earned eligibility to audition for All-State Band. After not making that group final yr, she stated incomes a spot as a senior is her greatest purpose of 2021.
“I’m extra ready and assured this yr,” she stated. “I’m nonetheless hoping I could make it occur.”
Sokeland stated a number of of his former college students who’ve studied music now have careers enjoying professionally or directing college students throughout Missouri and neighboring states. He stated he isn’t shocked that Brooks desires to affix their ranks after school.
“It’s not straightforward to be a music main. It takes a whole lot of work and a whole lot of self-drive,” he stated. “Casey positively matches that mildew.”
“My dream is to play in a symphony, possibly enjoying music for film scores,” she stated. “I positively need to play professionally. That’s what I’m going to attempt for. I’ve additionally considered being a band director, as a result of my band administrators are the explanation I’ve gotten to the place I’m. That might be the very best job.”