Taylor makes his name known with the trombone
by Courtney Warren
Jan 21, 2014 | 1063 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
While many teenagers are busy uploading pictures to Instagram, making Vine videos, and Tweeting about what's happening at school, Keveon Taylor is spending his time working in the community and playing the trombone.

Taylor, a Cleveland High School junior and band member, recently auditioned and made the Mississippi Lions All-State Band.

Taylor has played the trombone since the seventh grade.

"All 50 states have a Lions Club sponsored all-state band. Mississippi's Lions Band has won the international championship 29 of the past 60 or so years. It's comprised of high school kids grades 9-12 from all over the state and there are two rounds of auditions," explained Clay Fuller, Cleveland High School band director.

"Those happen in November, right at the end of football season, and usually there are close to 1,000 kids there to try out for the first round. There are about 90 kids in the whole group. They will meet at Jones Junior College the last week of June and rehearse for a week and then they will travel to Toronto for a week," said Fuller.

"This is a marching band and they do the Lions International Parade and they put together a marching routine with choreography," added Fuller.

Fuller explained that making this band is important for Taylor and shows his skill as a musician.

"You're making the most elite and most competitive high school band in the state. There are thousands and thousands of kids in high school band in Mississippi and we're talking about the top 5 percent. I'm extremely proud," said Fuller.

Fuller also said he made the band twice when he was in high school.

Taylor auditioned, made callbacks, and is now raising the $3,000 necessary for the trip.

"It was a very intense thing but I was also kind of relaxed because I have been going to band clinic since I was a freshman and I do have a lot of friends in band so we were there in the audition room giving each other pointers at the last minute," said Taylor.

Taylor enjoyed the fact that everyone he auditioned with knew each other but said when he went in for auditions the nerves became real.

"It's intense to go in the audition room because you have judges staring you down but you just go in there and do what you love to do and have fun doing it," he said.

Taylor said he is excited to be a part of the Lions Band and hopes that non-band members understand how great of an opportunity this is.

"It's a great honor but I wish more people knew how important and how big of a thing this really is. This band competes at an international level, not just in the United States. This is the best that Mississippi has to offer and you go there and compete with over 400 students from all over the state. Everyone who comes and tries out for Lions Band is dedicated and serious about playing the horn. It is the best high school band in the state.

"We take an international trip and this year the trip is going to be to Canada. We will compete in the National Lions Parade and we'll compete in the band division. This is from the best bands in the country," said Taylor.

Along with Fuller, Taylor is also proud of the fact that the Mississippi Lions Band has won so many times.

"That just goes to show you how musically inclined students in Mississippi are.

It's a great life experience because you get to go and sightsee. I don’t think there are many other extracurricular activities at school where you get to leave the country so it's going to be a phenomenal experience," said Taylor.

Taylor sat first chair in the Delta State University Honor Band 2014, meaning he was the best trombone player in the band and says he practices as much as he can.

"The most challenging part about playing the trombone is playing syncopated rhythms when I have to go from first position to seventh position back to first and to third. Playing fast music and grade five music is also really hard.

"It's not as easy as pushing a valve down — you have to be able to move your arm really fast to the positions and you have to be precise. If you just play it and hit the note it might be flat or sharp and won't go with the ensemble.

"Playing trombone is one of the more difficult instruments to play because you have to compensate having to move several feet to play two different notes instead of just pressing down," he explained.

Taylor is also a volunteer firefighter with the Bolivar County Volunteer Fire Department and said he enjoys working in the community as well as taking care of his many animals at home.

Because of this, Taylor said he is leaning towards attending Delta State University for college.

"Right now Delta State is close to number one in my schools simply because of the fact that it's right here at home. They have a great music department here. The people are very friendly and it's family oriented. Everyone will know your name," said Taylor.