Westminster High School student joins U.S. Army All-American Marching Band

Westminster High School student joins U.S. Army All-American Marching Band
Band Directors Brian Frazier and Jennifer Bodrie Jones; Jimmy McKenzie; and Jimmy’s parents, Ann McKenzie and Major Scott McKenzie are pictured. (HANDOUT)

This summer, Jimmy McKenzie, clarinetist and senior member of the Westminster High School Marching Band, was named to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band.

McKenzie will join 125 high school seniors in a performance in San Antonio, Texas, in a pep rally prior to and during the All-American Bowl game on Jan. 9, 2016. The Times caught up with McKenzie to discuss his musical influences, the clarinet and the military.


Q: How long have you been interested in music?

A: I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old. In fourth grade, I lived in Washington County and chose the clarinet. Originally, I wanted to play the trumpet, but when I came home from school on instrument selection day, I had chosen the clarinet. When my mom asked why, I said that it was because it had the most buttons. As I've gotten older, I'm glad I chose it because it is a very technical instrument with fun musical runs.

Q: How did it feel when you were named to the All-American Bowl marching band?

A: I was speechless. I got word when I was at band camp, and I had to take a minute or two to compose myself before going back to rehearsal. I am honored and thrilled to be a part of this prestigious band.

Q: What was the application process like?

A: In the fall, I was nominated by my band director, Mrs. Jennifer Jones. Once my nomination was accepted, I then submitted four videos to the National Association for Music Education and the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band selection committee. There was a solo playing video, a marching and playing video, a self-introduction and a video of rehearsal from the previous season. I also submitted additional recommendations from my band director and the principal at Westminster High School.

Q: Have you ever been to San Antonio before? Are you excited for the trip?

A: I have never been to San Antonio, but I eagerly await the chance to go to Texas and do some sightseeing in town when I have the opportunity. I am excited for the chance to connect with other seniors who love marching band and enjoy performing as much as I do.

Q: I understand your father is an active duty band officer, was he an influence for you?

A: My father is a huge influence on my music life. I've been going to band concerts since I was 3 months old. Since then, I have been exposed to many different styles of music, from Tchaikovsky to Sousa, and from Glenn Miller to Katy Perry. He has also encouraged me to audition for honor bands and helped me at home to learn tricky technical passages.

Q: What is it about performing that you enjoy so much?

A: Performing is just fun. It's extremely rewarding because after the hours put in to perfect the music and movements of marching band, we feel pride in the show we put on the field. Working with my band family makes both football games and competitions the highlight of my high school years.

Q: Do you plan to continue with music following high school?

A: I plan to study music education in college. I hope to one day become a band director at the high school level and enable other rising seniors to have the same opportunity that I have been given.


Q: What is the rehearsal and performance schedule look like once you're out in San Antonio?

A: We will be spending a week of rehearsal preparing for the halftime show at the All-American football game. I will be getting my music ahead of time, but will put it together with the other All-Americans when I arrive in San Antonio.

Q: Is the Army something you're interested in or passionate about?

A: I am extremely proud to be an Army brat. However, after moving nine times and attending six schools, I would like to attend college and then come back to Carroll County to become a band director.