Toot Your Own Horn!

By: Danielle Banks
By: Danielle Banks

While pre-calculus may be the focus now, Ben Rodes is day dreaming of music class.

Ben is still rehearsing the piece he played at the National Trumpet Competition in Northern Virginia. He placed 3rd in the high school division out of the whole country. Rob Nash is the band director at Turner Ashby High School. He says, "It's very hard to even get into the semi-finalist. He has to go up against some of the best in country. Hundreds of people apply for this."

Ben's parents, teachers, and peers are singing his praises, yet the 16-year-old junior at Turner Ashby still remains musically driven. Rodes says, "You always try to shoot for first and things happen in a live performance. Then you realize 3rd place isn't so bad."

TAHS Principal Delmer Botkin says, "We realized his ability in playing the trumpet. He stood out right from the get go so I guess we're not surprised he's done as well as he has."

Teachers say Ben is also academically gifted. Judy Rees is one of Ben's teachers. "He enjoys learning and he likes to think outside the box a little bit. He's a challenging student on that really makes me think as well which is nice."

He continues to think outside the classroom with his focus on music and usually practicing three hours a day. Plus, he takes lessons from a private tutor at JMU. James Kluesner has been working with Ben since August. He says, "I knew he had the potential. I can't say I'm totally surprised because I knew if he played well that he could do very well up there."

So what is Ben going to do with the $250 prize money he won? "I'm gonna buy a mouth piece and pay for some trumpet lessons!"

Ben Rodes says he's currently practicing for auditions in which he hopes to land a summer study.


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