Steamboat Springs When Kent Seabert began playing the tuba in fifth grade, it was nearly as big as he was. But he liked the simplicity of the three keys and was drawn to the large, shiny instrument because his dad had played it.
Katie Haberlan started playing the flute when she was 5 years old. For her it was either the flute or the piano and she chose the flute because she said she liked the way it sounded.
And Aaron Murphy started to play the French horn in middle school and tried out the trumpet in high school because he liked jazz and never looked back.
Regardless of how their music careers started, Steamboat Springs High School's Seabert, Haberlan and Murphy will find themselves in the same place April 4-6.
The three Steamboat students were chosen to participate in the All-State Band concert, a program that will draw the top musicians from around the state. More than 200 high school students throughout Colorado will travel to the University of Northern Colorado in early April as part of the All-State Band festivities.
High school band director Dan Isbell said this is the first time the school has taken three students to All-State Band and Steamboat will have more students attending the All-State Band than any other school in Northwest Colorado.
"Our program continues to grow each year and this is one more accomplishment I'm really proud of," Isbell said.
Two different ensembles of high school students will participate in the All-State Band. There will be 112 students in the symphony from 56 high schools and 100 students in the concert band from 48 high schools.
More than 800 students from 134 high schools tried out for the three-day band program. After Thanksgiving, Seabert, Haberlan and Murphy auditioned in Craig for the chance to perform at the All-State Band. The auditions required students to play different scales, sight read music and perform a piece they selected.
While practicing is nothing new for these musicians, the audition, Murphy said, was a great rehearsal for when he auditions for colleges later in the year. Practicing for an hour every night, Murphy is preparing to play the "Trumpet Concerto in B," by Franz Joseph Haydn for a UNC audition.
"It's the hardest thing I ever had to play but I'm pretty close. There are a few (notes) I'm still struggling with," said Murphy, a senior.
Not only will the students be able to play with some of the best musicians in the state in April, but it is also a time for college scouts to notice talented musicians. Unlike college scouts for athletics, music scouts do not come to the schools and can use honor bands as a way of tapping into top-quality high school performers.
"They won't come to schools to visit. They look for All-State (musicians). The biggest and best concert bands in Colorado are honor bands," Murphy said.
For Seabert, also a senior, this will be his second time around at the All-State Band concert. Besides the thrill of making second chair in the tuba section last year, Seabert had the added bonus of seeing some of his best friends from Leadville, where Seabert lived before moving to Steamboat, at the festivities.
While Haberlan and Murphy say they practice every day and Seabert practices whenever he can find a car big enough to carry his tuba home, all said there will be plenty of preparation time put in before traveling to Greeley. Although the music has not arrived, Seabert, from last year's experience, said it should be challenging.
"They're the top 50 musicians in the state you don't want to mess up," Seabert said.
At All-State Band, students will also be competing for chairs, and first chair is a goal the Steamboat musicians have their sights set on. While Seabert had six other tuba players at All-State last year, the trumpet and flute sections traditionally have much more competition.
"I noticed that when I went to (band) camp last summer, there were lots of flutes there and most did not get spots (on the All-State band)," said Haberlan, a sophomore.
On the first day of All-State Band, students will audition for chairs and then spend the next two days rehearsing for the concert, which is at 4 p.m. April 6.