Three Wise County students are preparing to play at one of the most well-recognized band performances in the state.
Alvord Junior Taylor Bennington and Boyd Senior Dalen Taff will be featured in the Texas All- State Concert Band while Decatur Senior Turner Johnson will play within the All-State Symphonic Band.
Bennington is excited for his second time performing on the Texas Music Educators Association All-State stage. Band has been a significant part of his life throughout middle school and high school. The opportunity to work with other gifted musicians is a rewarding moment.
“There is a lot of individual work that you have to do during the marching season that helps you prepare,” Bennington said.
The practice has paid off for the French Horn player. He is a part of the 2.6 percent of musicians from across the state who initially auditioned and made it to the All-State level.
He hopes to continue his music education in college and one day perform within Drum Corps International. The organization includes performances by elite marching band members in their teens and early twenties.
Bennington is excited to return to All-State and to perform Feb. 11. His experience last year has given him a good idea of what to expect.
“It was definitely exciting and a little terrifying,” Bennington said. “I was happy to be there.”
Similarly, Johnson has also previously been recognized as an All- State musician. After performing in the All- State Choir for the last two years, Johnson decided he would try to reach the same level with his clarinet instead of his voice.
“This year, I decided I wanted to try out for band and take that risk,” Johnson said.
The risk resulted in the outcome that Johnson was hoping to earn. The support of Decatur High School Band Director Eric McNiel gave Johnson the motivation that he needed to pursue the All- State Band recognition. He will also perform Feb. 11.
“I thought about what I wanted to do in college and I wanted to focus on band,” Johnson said.
He was recently accepted to the University of North Texas and plans to one day be a band director.
“Mr. McNiel is such a big role model for me and I would love to be that for other people in the future.
McNiel has enjoyed watching Turner become an accomplished band member and he believes that his determination will help him as he continues to grow.
“He always goes above and beyond in everything,” McNiel said.