Love of music helps define Caesar Rodney High senior

From left, Abrielle Emory gets a kiss from her mother, Brandiann as her music teacher Maureen Cannon, right, claps at a presentation ceremony naming the Caesar Rodney High student to play in the marching band at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 6.. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — Music has provided Abrielle Emory with much more than just the knowledge of playing an instrument over the past eight years. It has given her a passion — and a purpose.

It has helped the senior student at Caesar Rodney High School meet friends with similar interests, has given her a position of leadership as a drum major for the Riders’ marching band and has helped to shape her as a well-rounded student.

Most recently, Ms. Emory’s musical talents have provided her with an all-expenses paid trip to San Antonio, Texas, as she was one of 125 high school musicians from around the country selected to play at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 6.

Just being chosen was a thrill for her.

“Music is the entirety of my life,” said Ms. Emory, who will be playing the piccolo during halftime of the all-star football game.

“I’m fully committed in most of the departments here at Caesar Rodney not only in the band, but I am in the choir in the morning and I also do different jazz bands.

“I’m really happy that I was selected to play at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. I’ve never been to San Antonio, Texas, before so it should really be fun.”

Ms. Emory was the focal point of an assembly held in Caesar Rodney’s auditorium Thursday when all of her fellow band members got together and watched her get formally named to the all-star band. She became the fourth musician from CR to earn the distinction.

The National Association for Music Education, in cooperation with All American Games and Drum Corps International, pick the musicians for the all-star marching band.

Caesar Rodney band director Duwane Sandlin was not surprised that she was chosen for the honor.

“Everybody in the band here at Caesar Rodney knows her and knows what she’s all about,” he said. “She’s a very hard-working student and one of the high points of our program. She is definitely is a superstar within our little world of Camden.”

Mr. Sandlin said that auditioning alone for the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band is rigorous and quite competitive.

“Auditioning for this group is tough,” Mr. Sandlin said.

“We’ve had more than four students audition for All-American Band that did not get in. Everybody’s been an excellent musician but it’s just that special thing that’ll get you to the gig.

“Abrielle worked very hard to prepare for this and the rigors of application are overwhelming. She took that on herself and did all the preparation and the fruits of her labor are now.”

During her trip to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Ms. Emory will receive instruction from top collegiate, high school and drum and bugle corps instructors from across the country as well as educational sessions with members of the U.S. Army Field Band.

Ms. Emory’s musical journey began in the fifth grade at Allen Frear Elementary School when she decided to try her hand at playing the flute.

She’s glad she did.

“I really liked the expression of music and the way to just kind of connect with an audience,” she said, “and I just have always been amazed by people who can play an instrument really well.”

Four years later, upon entering high school, she chose to add the piccolo to her repertoire.

She gives a lot of credit for her success to the music instructors she has had throughout her school years in the CR district, including Maureen Cannon at Allen Frear, Mark Crossley at Postlethwait Middle School and Mr. Sandlin at Caesar Rodney.

During her trip to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Abrielle Emory will receive instruction from top collegiate, high school and drum and bugle corps instructors from across the country as well as educational sessions with members of the U.S. Army Field Band.

Ms. Cannon, her very first flute teacher, sat at the podium next to Ms. Emory and her mom, Brandianne, during Thursday’s announcement.

Mrs. Emory said that with two daughters who are musicians “our house is always full of sound.”

She added that music helped Abrielle discover who she was.

“She wasn’t into sports and I was always afraid she wasn’t going to find her niche and as a parent you’re always worried about what your kids are going to be interested in and she just embraced music and she just loves it,” she said. “She’s also a fantastic student.”

Ms. Emory, who also plays piano and trombone, is certain that music will play a part in her future.

She has applied to attend the University of Delaware, Maryland, Penn State and is also working on applying to Julliard Music School in New York.

Julliard is the one she seems to be the most intrigued by. It would allow her to take her musical abilities to a whole different level.

After all, music is a huge part of her life. She said she would recommend joining a band in school to everyone.

“I’d recommend it just for the family feeling and the community,” she Emory said. “I feel that it’s very important, especially when I was coming in my freshman year, I really didn’t know too many people coming in and being able to create a family with people who are really engaged in the same interests as you is very warming.”

It has certainly kept her busy.

“Since I was a drum major in the marching band I was in charge of making sure everything worked together and I’ve been principal flute in the concert band, so I’ve been trying to keep track of all the flutes and I’m involved in jazz band,” Ms. Emory said.

“It’s definitely a big support system here at Caesar Rodney and everybody’s rooting for each other and it’s a lot of fun.”

Judging from the standing ovation she received from her fellow Rider bandmates Thursday, she’ll have plenty of people rooting for her when she takes the field on Jan. 6.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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