Southmoreland seniors earn spots on All-State Band
Southmoreland senior Elaina Kauffman remembers an inauspicious and, as she put it, “embarrassing” moment as an eighth-grader in her initial season with the Scotties marching band.
On the field playing the trombone during a football game halftime performance, Kauffman's slide hit a senior marching in front of her in the head, she recalls, chuckling.
“It didn't disrupt our performance, and we just kept playing and marching, but at halftime he said, ‘Was that you?' ” she said. “I said ‘Yes.' I was really embarrassed.”
Kauffman's embarrassing episode is a distant memory, and her most recent performance is the exclamation point on her successful scholastic music career.
At the PMEA (Pennsylvania Music Educators Association) all-state concert held in Erie from April 17-20, Kauffman ranked fourth overall (out of 12 students) in the trombone section of the concert band.
Seated not far from Kauffman on the all-state stage was fellow senior and principal percussionist at Southmoreland, Taylor Gephart, who ranked fourth overall (out of nine students) in the percussion section of the concert band.
As a sixth-grader with an eye on eventually joining the Scotties drumline, Gephart was out of luck when it came to the drums.
“They already had 18 drummers, and mallets was the only instrument left,” Gephart said, laughing. “So I started with mallets that year.”
Ironically, Gephart's dedication with the mallets more than paid off in achieving the all-state honor.
“I'm actually the only percussionist remaining from that group,” she added, chuckling.
“Both girls have worked diligently this year and throughout their educational and musical careers,” said Jamie Gore, Southmoreland director of bands. “I'm very proud of the poise they've shown through this rigorous process.”
In her seven years at Southmoreland, eight of Gore's students have been selected to represent the school and district as all-state selections, including one student selected twice for the honor.
With a desire to be part of her elementary school band, Kauffman opted for the trombone in the fifth grade, primarily because she was not comfortable with her other musical choice, the clarinet. A four-year trombonist with the band, Kauffman, who plans to attend Seton Hill University in Greensburg in the fall to pursue a degree in Music Therapy, also served as drum major for marching and pep bands.
“Normally, you do not see a lot of girls playing the trombone, but at states about half the trombonists were girls,” she said. “When they called my name at regionals, I was absolutely thrilled to be part of the all-state band.”
According to Gore, Kauffman's dedication with the trombone reaped its rewards.
Knowing she wanted to continue her music career in college, Kauffman researched different music programs and discovered music therapy, used in hospices and to help improve social skills in autistic children.
“As a musician, Elaina has grown immensely since our paths crossed five years ago,” Gore said. “I've seen a sweet young lady blossom into a confident, hard-working, talented musician and a wonderful person. Elaina's love of music is quite evident, as well as her consideration for others.”
Kauffman, principal chair trombonist at Southmoreland, has been selected as a member of the Fay West Honors Band, Westmoreland County Band, PMEA District and Region bands, District Orchestra and Westmoreland Youth Symphony Orchestra Philharmonic. She was named an Outstanding Young Citizen of Westmoreland County.
Among her extensive music memories is her experience with the PMEA Honors Jazz concert at Seton Hill in December, where the guest director was Mike Davis, trombonist for the Rolling Stones.
“He was so good,” beamed Kauffman, who plans on becoming a freelance trombonist as well. “His tone was absolutely beautiful. Every single note was a gem. That's my goal.”
As principal percussionist with mallets at Southmoreland, Gephart has grown “in all areas since we began working together five years ago, first as her marching band instructor and then in ensembles and music classes,” said Gore. “Her musical ability has grown immensely, but, more importantly, I've seen Taylor grow to be an even more outstanding individual. She goes out of her way to be a positive influence on others and is an outstanding role model. I'm so proud of the young lady and musician that she has become.”
A member of Southmoreland's Jazz, Concert, Pep and marching bands, Gephart, who plans to study Music Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, which happens to be Gore's alma mater, to embark on a teaching career, has been selected for the PMEA Region Band, All-State Concert Band, PMEA Honors and District bands, WCMEA County and Fay-West Honors band, and performs with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds.
Gephart, also a member of the Southmoreland Chorus, admits to being surprised upon her selected for the Pennsylvania All-State Band, but credits Gore for her success.
“I would not have gone where I have had it not been for Mrs. Gore,” Gephart said. “She is a wonderful teacher, very inspiring. She changed me as a person regarding improving my music and helping develop me into a leader.”
Les Harvath is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- IRS scam snares another Westmoreland County resident
- Krieger to seek Westmoreland County Common Pleas judgeship
- WCCC officials vow to erase $2.2M deficit
- Walker: Still time to recycle live Christmas trees in Scottdale
- New Derry woman charged after mail delivery of 4 pounds of marijuana
- Delmont man blogs about industrial history of region, exploring long-cold coke ovens
- Salem man, in lockup in Greensburg shooting, charged with threatening to kill prison guard
- Electricity deal eyed for Latrobe
- Youngwood advances grease trap ordinance
- New Year’s Eve sales set LCB record
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail