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FHS student invited to ‘Honor Band’

Not only does Farragut High School senior band member Steven Lawhon hold the title of First Chair All-East Saxophonist, he has earned a position in the prestigious Honor Band of America.

Honor Band of America is a yearly event that exhibits some of the best high school musicians in the country.

Steven said, “They use a program called Smart Music that has different pieces for you to audition with. The program records [your audition] and sends it to [the judges]. They judge from all the people who have auditioned from all across the United States and then they pick the top performers to go to Indianapolis [Ind.] for the concert.”

The event offers participants the opportunity to rehearse and perform with a renowned conductor and a world-class soloist.

“It is a Wednesday through Sunday event with a performance at the end. It includes master classes with the top professionals around the world. Gary Hill from Arizona State University is conducting this year and Tim McCallister, who is one of my favorite musicians, is doing a concerto with the group and I am very much looking forward to that,” Steven said.

Steven, who has been playing music for more than 12 years, has only recently found his love for the saxophone.

He said although he started playing saxophone in middle school, it wasn’t until his sophomore year that he “really got into it.

“I played piano for 10 or 11 years. It was my first musical instrument. I played guitar for two years. I have a clarinet and a trumpet, but I am not very good at those. Once I became really into [saxophone] my sophomore year, I gave everything else up.”

He added, “I started taking private lessons with Jay Romines and he really helped my playing go to the next level and go to the all-state conventions both years and then, finally this year, the Band of America. So it has been a progression, going through different teachers and different instruments — trying out new things.”

Romines is the band director at Knoxville Catholic High School.

Farragut High School band director Ron Rodgers helped set Steven up with Romines.

“Mr. Romines is one of the most respected music teachers in this area and he is also one of the best saxophone players you will ever here in your life. And we were able to get Steven and Jay hooked up early on for private instruction,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers could not say enough about Steven’s dedication to his music.

“Steven Lawhon is one of the most talented high school musicians I have ever known, and he has been since the first day he walked into the program,” he said.

“Some kids you see that are 13 years old act like they are 13 years old and some kids that age act like they are juniors or seniors, and that was Steven. Steven understood what he wanted to do and what he needed to get there almost from the very beginning” Rodgers added.

Steven’s class schedule this year reflects his love of music.

“All the kids have a four-period day. Steven is taking my [advanced placement] music theory class to prepare for college. Third block he and another student are doing an independent study where they will be doing a recital at the end of the semester with their private instructors, and then he has band fourth block. So out of a four-period day, three of the periods are spent here in the band room.

Steven is spending his time before the event auditioning for acceptance into several first-rate college music schools.

“I have auditioned at Tennessee Tech, Minnesota and Iowa [universities] and March 6 is my audition at Indiana University,” Steven said.

This upcoming audition is a big one for Steven.

I am hoping for Indiana, That has been my dream school for a while and my top choice. In my opinion it is the best you can get,” he said.

The 2009 Honor Band of America will perform in concert at 8 p.m., Saturday, March 21, at Butler University’s Clowes Memorial Hall.

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