Double reeded


Marianthe Meyer

Carter Bowman holds his baritone saxophone at jazz band practice.

Carter Bowman, senior, lives a life of twos. He slept for two hours the night before marching in the 2021 Greentree Parade. He plays two instruments (alto and baritone saxophone) and tries to practice them for two hours every day. This year, he auditioned for and made two honor bands (All-State and All-Suburban) for both of his instruments.

KHS band students are given the audition music for All-Suburban band the previous school year. For Bowman, this meant practicing over the summer as well as during the school year. Rebecca Friesen, KHS band director, said students get the opportunity to work with the KHS directors, as well as guest clinicians, on their audition music.

“[There is] a big number [of students in All-State] this year from St. Louis, which is really cool,” Friesen said. “It’s a testament to those students working over the whole pandemic and virtual world. They had to do a lot of [practicing] on their own.”

This is the second year Bowman has qualified for All-State, but the first year he will be able to participate due to last year’s being canceled due to COVID-19. The All-State band retreat, which includes the top students from all the Missouri districts, is on Jan. 26-29. All-Suburban band, which consists of the top students in each district, performed on Jan. 16.

“[All-Suburban] band is fun [because you get] to play with a lot of really good people,” Bowman said. “It’s not limited by what school you go to. It’s the best people in the district and it’s really fun to play with those people.”

Band is as much a social activity as a musical one for Bowman. Abigail Konopik, junior, has found a similar community within the KHS band program. Konopik was also selected to All-Suburban and All-State but said the band has impacted her more socially.

Abigail Konopik holds her French horn at jazz band practice. (Marianthe Meyer)

“Band challenges me a lot,” Konopik said. “There’s a big social aspect. When I was in middle school, I was afraid of speaking out and that translated into playing an instrument. When I was too scared to talk to people, I could still play music. Band has been this great challenge of finding a way to be heard.”

Friesen attributes these students’ success in band to their dedication and willingness to work outside of class. Bowman and Konopik both take private lessons to improve their skills.

“We try to set [our students] up for success,” Friesen said. “But then they take [our instruction] and they run with it.”

Friesen first met Bowman when he was in her fifth grade beginner clarinet class. He switched to saxophone the next year and since then has been involved in nearly every aspect of the KSD band program. This year, Bowman was one of the KHS drum majors and was a Cadet Teacher for NKMS and Nipher’s beginning clarinet class.

“I go to school every day and music is a part of that,” Bowman said. “Outside of school, I don’t really have any obligation to practice or play music, but in school I do. School has brought me into the world of music and made that a normal part of my day.”

Part of Bowman’s role as drum major was to provide an example for the underclassmen. Konopik said Bowman, along with the rest of the seniors, are fun to be around and set a good example for playing their instrument.

“You can tell how much work [Bowman] puts into what he does,” Konopik said. “I really respect his work ethic and how much he enjoys music and puts himself into the music. It’s nice to hear that from someone you get to play with.”

Carter Bowman holds his alto saxophone at jazz band practice. (Marianthe Meyer)

Bowman spends most of his day surrounded by band kids, whether during his Cadet class, KHS band class or spending time outside of school with the friends he has made through band. Now, in his senior year, Bowman has found some of his most memorable high school experiences have been connected to the band program.

“I like being a leader,” Bowman said. “In band, I was not only a drum major, but I was also a senior. Especially given how impactful the band program has been on me, it’s fun to lead other younger people into the same program.”