SHS horn player makes Lions Band

Starkville High School senior Kathryn Walters rehearses with the Yellow Jacket Band Thursday Morning. Walters is one of eight high school horn players statewide to make the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

She’s the sixth best high school horn player in the state, and she’s right here in town.

On her second attempt, Starkville High School senior Kathryn Walters made it into the Mississippi Lions All-State Band. The band is compiled annually by the Lions of Mississippi, and will perform at the Lions Club International Convention in Milan, Italy from July 5 through July 9. The same audition also got her into the even more prestigious Mississippi All-State Band. Walters has been a part of the band program since sixth grade, and currently serves as horn section leader for the Yellow Jacket Band. She will continue playing horn in the Famous Maroon Band at Mississippi State University in fall 2019. She also plays in the Starkville First United Methodist Church Brass Ensemble.

She said after not making it into the ensemble last year, she changed her approach and started studying privately with MSU horn instructor Matthew Haislip.

“In the audition you have to play your 12 scales, and you have to play chromatic scales and your two prepared pieces and sight-reading,” Walters said. “Especially that week before, I was practicing a lot on the scales. It was a lot about the repetition, and with the prepared piece, it was about making sure you were well rounded on all parts of it.”

Walters said the audition consisted of two rounds.

Last year, she was two places short of making the Lions Band. This year, she is one of eight high school horn players statewide to make the cut, scoring sixth on the audition.

“Every high school’s got five or six French horns,” said SOCSD Director of Bands Shawn Sullivan. “You think about how many high schools there are (in Mississippi), and that’s a lot of horn players. It’s a great opportunity.”

Sullivan said a few past Yellow Jacket Band students have performed in the Lion’s Band and All-State Band in years past. He also served as an assistant director of the band in 2016, when the convention was held in Fukuoka, Japan.

“I’ve known Kathryn since she was a sixth grader,” Sullivan said. “She also plays in my brass ensemble at church. We have a strong relationship as teacher and student, and she loves playing the instrument. She’s very competitive with herself, wanting to make herself better all the time.”

Walters plans to major in psychology and minor in music. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in music therapy after graduating from MSU.

Haislip said Walters had improved considerably during his time as her private lesson teacher.

“Kathryn has worked so hard to achieve her goals, and it has paid off, and I am very proud of her,” Haislip said.”