Behind every All-State Band student can be found supportive family members, teachers and hours of practice.

But there is another common denominator for seven All-State Band and Orchestra students from Northwest Florida this year, Destin clarinet teacher Nancy Saleeby.

“I’ve been teaching over 30 years and I started teaching in this area about 15 years ago,” said Saleeby, noting that she moved to Destin 17 years ago from Atlanta. “I have seven All-State students this year, six were high school and one was middle school.”

Saleeby said seeing her students make the All-State Band or All-State Orchestra is not unusual, but this year was extra special for more reason than one.

“This year was extremely exciting,” she said. “One of my students made first chair clarinet in 11-12 grade All-State Band, and another made first chair bass clarinet in the 11-12 grade All-State Orchestra. I’ve had students make first chair many, many times, but this is the first time I’ve had a first-chair in All-State Band.”

The student that made first chair clarinet for All-State Band was Ryan Murphy, a Niceville High School senior. And the top bass clarinet player for All-State Orchestra was Jazzlyn Tempur, another Niceville High School senior. In fact, Niceville High School had five clarinet players make All-State Band this year, and all were Saleeby’s students.

“That’s a credit to them that they work so hard,” Saleeby said of the feat. “Any student that makes All-State it is quite an accomplishment. I’m just a guide, they did all the work. I’m honored to have them as my students.”

Saleeby added that while most years she has a mix of high school and middle school students, this year a majority of her students that made All-State were high school age.

“I was very excited because, generally I have more of a mix,” she said of the age range of her students. “It gets harder as the grades go up. The audition criteria is different for both levels.”

As for her own accomplishments, Saleeby got her undergraduate degree in music from Florida State University and her masters of music from San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

She has played for high-profile performances such as the Savannah Symphony, Atlanta Ballet Orchestra and several Broadway shows. Most recently, she has played for the Panama City POPS Orchestra, Sinfonia Gulf Coast and the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra. But even with all these accomplishments, Saleeby is humble.

“I’ve had a really good opportunity to play in a lot of different places,” she said of her vast repertoire. “I stay active as a performer.”

When it comes down to it, Saleeby prefers to focus on her students – a proud teacher at heart.

“I’m proud of all of them,” she said of her students past and present. “Not only my successful students but my beginners as well. I try to treat them all equally and try to develop each one.”

If you would like to take private clarinet, bass clarinet or saxophone lessons from Nancy Saleeby, email her at nancyds@cox.net.