In April 9 Issue
There's an old joke which goes something like, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?", and instead of getting directions, the poor lost man is always told, "Practice! Practice!"
According to one "band mother," a lot of practice along with a great deal of help and support from this community paved the way for one young Russell Countian to find his way to that very spot.
Kimberly Warner said her son Justin Warner, 18, of Russell Springs and a 2008 graduate of Russell County High School, played recently at New York City's prestigious Carnegie Hall with the University of Louisville's elite Wind Ensemble April 1st.
She said the event was part of the annual New York Band and Orchestra Festival - Louisville's Wind Ensemble was the 'main attraction', performing last, one of only 3 university groups invited to the Festival, and receiving 2 standing ovations.
Warner said that while sitting in the audience she, "overhead some very tough and hard-to-impress New Yorkers speaking in awe of Louisville's tremendous performance."
When Russell County High School's previous Band Director Wayne Ackerman had showed up at Salem Elementary back in the fall of 2001, her son, in the 6th grade, had no idea the opportunity in front of him at that time would lead to this day.
She said that all he knew was that he wanted to join the band, but he was afraid his mother might object as money was pretty tight at the time. She added that he had no need to worry though, as she supported him all the way.
Ackerman started Justin on the trumpet, but soon asked him to switch over to the more challenging french horn, Warner said.
"This began a love of music in Justin which has only grown stronger with each passing year," she added.
He played in the Russell County concert bands for 7 years, and marched with the Mighty Lakers for 6 years, receiving many honors and awards.
With several universities interested in his becoming a part of their community, Warner said that Justin accepted the scholarship offered by the University of Louisville School of Music because of their outstanding Music Composition program, and maybe also because it was his mother's alma mater.
In his freshman year at Louisville, Warner said her son has continued to excel, receiving a 3.5 GPA in his first semester with a full course load, and placement in the top bands and ensembles.
And his mother said Russell County gets to take a part of the credit for it. She said that while Justin is incredibly talented, blessed with a gift from the Lord, she said he would not be where he is today without the people and community of Russell County.
From his talented and very patient directors, Wayne Ackerman and Andy Critz, to all the assistant directors and other teachers in the Russell County School system, to his band family of friends and boosters who helped when the going got tough, she said she was very thankful.
She remembered that it was Jim Bean who picked Justin up after he passed out in the heat during a particularly grueling session of band camp in the August heat.
She said it was Wade Daffron who assisted Justin off the field after his first marching performance at Adair County when he hyperventilated.
Warner said it was also Pat Hopper and Pauline Davenport, who become adopted Moms, and Scott Pierce along with the School Board put such tremendous support into the music program here that are also to "blame" for her son's success.
She added that Senator Vernie McGaha came and encouraged the band before State competitions, and mentioned the business community at large for what she called the incredible support it has given the band program over the years
"You all have a part in Justin's success, Warner said. "-and we are deeply thankful for it!"