Trumpeting to the top: Local student makes All-State Band

Savannah Vasquez
Three area high school musicians were selected to the 2016 Florida All-State Symphonic Band. They were selected from thousands of students auditioning throughout the state and showcased their talent at the Tampa Convention center in Tampa, last month. Pictured from left to right are Fort Walton Beach High School students Ryan Wagner (Trumpet), and Abigail Vinquist (Clarinet) and Choctawhatchee High School student Steven Foster(Trumpet).

Ryan Wagner, who attended Destin schools and is now senior at Fort Walton Beach High School, just accomplished a huge musical feat; he was accepted into the Florida All-State Symphonic Band.

Wagner, the son of Sherri and Bob Wagner, has been playing the trumpet for six years, dating back to his sixth grade introduction to the instrument at Destin Middle School. He said he first chose the trumpet purely based on his brother.

“My brother played it so I was like, ‘You can probably teach me a few things so I’ll play it like you,’” he said.

However, now Wagner has the upper hand when it comes to sibling rivalry on the musical front. This was actually Wagner’s second time making All-State, a feat his brother did not accomplish.

“That’s the little bragging rights I have,” Wagner laughed, adding that making the cut is not a walk in the park.

“To audition they give you two (musical) excerpts, and you also have to play 12 major scales and then do some sight-reading,” he said. “You go into a room and they record you.”

When asked what it takes to be an All-State musician, Wagner said it all comes down to one thing.

“Definitely practice,” he said, noting that finding time to practice is also the most challenging thing about being a musician. “Over the summer I practice about six to seven days a week about an hour and a half to two hours a day, not including my private lessons. But it’s worth it, because you become a better player in the process even if you don’t make it.”

Auditions for All-State were held in August, but the students were not notified of their acceptance until December, just in time to prepare for a January performance.

“It’s held in Tampa,” Wagner said of All-State. “You go down there and you audition Thursday morning for chair placement, then there are in rehearsals Thursday night, all day Friday, all day Saturday then a performance on Sunday.”

This year’s performance for the eleventh and twelfth grade Symphonic Band was a 30-minute piece called, “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The band itself, consisted of around 300 students from across the state, and Wagner was just one of 15 students that made up the trumpet section.

Randy Folsom, Band Director at Fort Walton Beach High School has taught Wagner for the past four years.

“He’s one of our leaders both musically and from an example standpoint,” Folsom said. “He has worked really hard both individually and in the group and we are very, very proud of him, he is a great young man.”