Sitting in the audition room in Casper on Nov. 4, 2017, Douglas junior Kirsten Caskey took a deep breath and began to play two etudes, a chromatic scale and a sight-reading piece on her beloved trumpet.
Three weeks later at her home in Douglas, she nervously sat on her couch awaiting the one message telling her the results. The message finally came from her band teacher, congratulating Caskey on receiving the first chair for trumpet at the Wyoming State Orchestra. Still sitting on her couch, she couldn’t believe she had made it.
Originally, Caskey wanted to learn the saxophone. Her parents thought she only wanted to play because a friend was also playing. Not long after, she watched while another friend played the trumpet and knew it was the instrument she wanted to learn.
Knowing she wouldn’t be the musician she is today without her previous achievements and failures, Caskey credits both as a growing experience. In 2016 Caskey was at her audition for the orchestra when in the middle of her chromatic scale she missed a few notes and didn’t receive the first chair. Looking back, she knows it pushed her to practice and helped her all the more in 2017.
“I was really convinced I was going to make it this year, so I worked a lot harder,” Caskey said.
Since then, along with her beloved trumpet, Black Phoenix, Caskey continues to play in the Douglas High School marching and concert band.
For the concerts, Caskey usually plays classical songs by Johann Sebastian Bach and a few Russian pieces. Even though she doesn’t mind them, she notes how her favorites genre is movie scores and jazz music, especially Frank Sinatra.
Sinatra’s music is an inspiration for Caskey, but she credits another person who helped her in middle school, her band teacher. The young musician recalls how he made learning music fun, instilling in her the passion for music.
From learning the trumpet in sixth grade, she has learned the value of practice and the difference a few extra hours a week can make when concert or audition season arrives.
“Even if you’re practicing a lot, there is probably someone practicing more than you,” Caskey said.
Caskey has been practicing harder than ever in preparation for the Wyoming All-State Orchestra concert in Evanston Jan. 16.
Caskey noted her disappointed in not playing Star Wars music for the concert but is excited to join the fellow students as they play classical pieces like “Come Sweet Death” by Bach.
The concert this month is not the only performance Caskey is preparing for. She will also be joining the Wyoming State Orchestra in November as they travel to New York to play at the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade.
With the support of her family, friends and teachers she hopes to continue her spot as the first chair, along with the chance to receive more scholarships and opportunities to play the trumpet.
After graduating in 2019, she hopes to continue playing trumpet, even is she doesn’t major in music.
“Playing helps motivate me to do better in everything,” Caskey said.
Looking back, Caskey never thought she would receive the first chair for trumpet. She remains excited to play and loves watching other students discover their own love for music.
“Even if you have raw talent, it takes a lot of practice,” Caskey said. “You have to practice in your sleep, basically, if you want to be good at what you do.”