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His next 'gig' will be in Nashville
Trumpeter Brennan Rudy, a Halifax senior, will perform at
NMEA All-National Concert Band Festival

By Duane Good, EDITOR

Brennan Rudy

Some elementary-age students balk at practicing a musical instrument.

When Brennan Rudy first acquired a trumpet in fourth-grade, he didn’t want to stop.

“I couldn’t put the horn down,’’ he recalled. ‘‘Physically, I wasn’t used to it, so my lips would bleed from playing so much.’’

Now a senior at Halifax Area High School, the son of Steve and Donna Rudy has been reaping many fruits from those early days of long practices and bloody lips.

Having earned All-State honors as a junior for his musical talent, Rudy will perform in Nashville, Tenn. next week as a member of the NAFME (National Association For Music Educators) All-National Concert Band Festival.

Playing second trumpet, he will join approximately 150 other high school musicians from throughout the United States to present a concert on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry House Wednesday, Oct. 29.

Rudy is the first Halifax Area High School band member to earn a national-level honor and will be the only trumpet player from Pennsylvania in the festival group. He will audition for his chair position once he reaches Nashville.

Rudy qualified to audition for the all-national group based on his selection to the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) All-State Wind Ensemble earlier this year.

“I didn’t expect to accepted (to the national group) because a lot more people  audition,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t think there was much chance.’’

As excited as he was to make All-State honors, Rudy is even more thrilled to be playing with other students musicians from across the nation.

‘‘It’s definitely inspiring to be able to meet other people who are just as involved in music as I am,’’ he said.

Praise from his teachers. Already planning to seek a career in music performance, Rudy believes that from the beginning, he and the trumpet were a match.

‘‘I knew when I was in fourth-grade that I wanted to play an instrument,’’ he said. ‘‘I saw the  trumpet and said, ‘I want to play that,’ and I’ve never played anything else since.’’

While appreciating the prominent role trumpet plays in many band and orchestral arrangements, Rudy also enjoys performing for another reason.

‘‘I can express myself in a way other than just talking to people,’’ he said.

Rudy’s enthusiasm for trumpet made an impression on Amy Schade, Halifax’s elementary instrumental music instructor and high school marching band director.

‘‘Brennan was in fifth-grade when I began working at Halifax (2007-08 school year) and at the age, he was a really committed student who really loved playing the trumpet,’’ she recalled. ‘‘He never forgot a band lesson and would look for any excuse to come down to play and practice, even throughout middle school when other kids sart to find other interests.

‘‘Brennan’s biggest challenge in playing was learning to count rhythms and it was really amazing to see him finally ‘get it,’ ’’ she said.

‘‘A student like Brennan really keeps you on your toes as a music teacher. It’s been really fun to help him progress and watch him come into his own as a musician,’’ Schade said.

Brennan Rudy

For high school concert band director Traci Aunkst, it’s equally been a pleasure to have Rudy in the fold.

‘‘A lot of kids are technically good on their instruments, but he has the musiciansship, the emotion and the communication on top of it,’’ Aunkst said, praising ‘‘the way (Rudy) expresses himself and the beautiful tone and sound he has on the trumpet.’’

As an underclassmen, Rudy – at Aunkst’s suggestion – began taking private lessons with Bill Perbetsky, who recently retired from the Susquehanna Twp. School District as a music teacher.

“He was shy and quiet at first, but I’ve come to see a side of him that’s driven to be the best he can be on trumpet,’’ Perbetsky said. “He is a hard worker who, if you give him something to do, he gets it done.”

Perbetsky said Rudy began taking lessons not long after auditioning, but not qualifying for the PMEA District Band.

‘‘I explained to him that there was a process (in successfully reaching district and other band festivals) and that if he was willing to do what needs to be done, he’ll accomplish that and a lot more,’’ he stated.

Rudy not only represented Halifax at districts his junior year; he also reached the regional event as well. On that basis, he auditoned for All-State Wind Ensemble and was awarded a seat for the festival, held in Harrisburg in late March.

Like Aunkst, Perbetsky praised Rudy’s musicianship (“I’ve never had a student with a sound like that,’’ he said) as well as his commitment.

‘‘He’s worked very hard, and I’m very proud of him.’’ he said.

‘‘A lot of options.’’ Rudy continues to practice daily for at least an hour a day and said he uses the time to keep refining his skills.

‘‘With regular practice, you develop a routine,’’ he said. ‘‘You can form a base and say, ‘I want to work on this.’ After awhile, it builds on itself,’’ he said.

Among the trumpeters he looks to for inspiration are Harry James (1916-83), the well-known ‘‘big band’’ leader; and the members of the Canadian Brass Ensemble.

He also tries to provide and encouragement to fellow musicians in the marching and concert bands and hopes his achievements will inspire  other Halifax students to do their best

While continuing to encourage Rudy as a student, Aunkst also is trying to help him find the right school – he said he would prefer a music conservatory if possible – after he graduates in June.

‘‘He has a lot of options coming his way,’’ she said.

As life after high school draws closer, Rudy said that whenever he asks himself why he is choosing a music-performance career – perhaps in a Broadway pit orchestra, a small ensemble or even a symphony – he remembers back to what drew him to the trumpet in the first place.

‘‘It causes me to think about why music inspires me and what I love about it,’’ he said.


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