By Grace Peplinski, Current Staff
While most kids will be spending their summer hanging out with friends, one West Bend trumpet player will be touring with a distinguished music group.
Connor Hall, a junior at West Bend East High School, recently found out he has been given a coveted position in the Kids from Wisconsin performance group, though it wasn’t officially announced to the public until March 8. This group of 36 teenagers and young adults will be touring and performing shows all throughout Wisconsin.
The group will begin rehearsing the two-hour show June 1. Their opening performance is on June 20, and they will subsequently perform about 70 shows around the state of Wisconsin. Hall has been given the role of principal troupe member, which means he will be guaranteed a spot in the permanent group, not just an understudy role. He worked tirelessly for this role, learning a piece and playing it from memory for the audition.
“I practiced for about two months for a 15-minute audition consisting of a prepared piece, ‘La Vie en Rose’ by Louis Armstrong, that I played from memory, and also learned by ear,” Hall said.
In addition to learning on his own, Hall believes his time with the WBHS bands has greatly contributed to his success with Kids from Wisconsin.
“The amount of extracurriculars and focus put into the music program has allowed me to push myself further in my music career and realize what I want to do,” Hall said. “The band has taught me good practicing habits and positive attitudes which allowed me to workshop my own audition and push to want this position.”
Hall’s band teacher, Leah-Duckert Kroll, is very proud of the music program set up at the high schools. There are many opportunities available to students, such as the pep band, marching band, jazz ensembles and pit orchestra. There’s also a brass band, where Hall is the lead trumpet player.
“I think his strong involvement in nearly everything we offer gave him a strong push to want to do Kids,” Ducker-Kroll said. “We also really push leadership in our program, and while Connor hasn’t technically had a leadership position in our program, we push leadership regardless of whether or not you have the title. Connor leads by example and is very knowledgeable with his craft. Further, he has a strong passion to learn more, and achieve more.”
“Band has taught me good practicing habits and positive attitudes which allowed me to workshop my own audition.”
– Connor Hall
Duckert-Kroll was actually the one who sent Hall the information about Kids from Wisconsin, because she believed he would be able to use his leadership skills to earn a spot in the performance group.
“I let Connor know about the audition a couple months ago.” Duckert-Kroll said. “I thought he’d be a good fit. He did all of the research himself on what the audition entailed, set up the audition, and went in to perform. In as long as I’ve been here at WBHS (16 years), we’ve never had another band musician make Kids, so that’s quite an achievement in itself.”
Another band teacher, Corey Murphy, agrees that Hall has had a significant influence on the West Bend bands and that he will be successful this summer while playing with Kids from Wisconsin.
“I think Connor is well-deserving of these results,” Murphy said. “He works extremely hard and is an incredibly motivated musician. I think he’s going to have a great summer touring with Kids from Wisconsin and I believe his trumpet playing and stage presence will be a great asset to the show as well. He’s constantly sharing new music with me and telling me about the new pieces he’s learning to play.”
Besides his position in Kids from Wisconsin, Hall has received other awards related to band through the high schools and solo ensemble. He’s been given an Outstanding Musical Achievement award and various medals for his performance in the regional and state solo ensemble festivals.
Hall also does private tutoring for younger children at the WBHS campus. He believes working with kids will help him see areas where he could improve in his own instrument playing.
“Working with smaller kids, teaching them my instrument really helps me see what I need to work on as a player,” Hall said. “It also shows different methods I can apply to my own daily life such as communicating, assisting others and sharing information.”
Hall hopes to use what he will learn with Kids from Wisconsin to help others.
“With my experience at Kids, I will gain a much more vast knowledge of performance details and small things that are required in daily music production, such as speaker setup, how to setup sound mixers, and much more,” Connor said. “I will apply this to my future schooling as I plan to major in music production, where I can then send my gained knowledge to others.”
(Top image: Connor Hall stands in WBHS’ music wing. Photo taken Friday by Grace Peplinski, Current Staff.)