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M'ville musician joins 'best of the best'

Cary Ashby • Aug 8, 2018 at 10:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Ashlynn Legg performed with an elite group of high school musicians as a member of the All-Ohio State Fair Band.

Legg, who will be a senior at Monroeville High School, represented Huron County as one of 30 clarinetists in the band. In the spring, she completed an application, which was judged on how well she did during solo-and-ensemble competitions, her honors band participation and recommendations from various directors.

“I got 12th chair. That was pretty good; I was proud of myself,” Legg said. “As far as I know, I was the only one from this area.”

“Typically it’s two people per county,” added Monroeville band director Rob Hayes, who is in his seventh year at the school. “It is a very, very special event for students to do.”

Hayes said it’s wonderful to not only have Legg excel, but he also enjoys when his students perform outside of the classroom.

“They get more advanced (material) and they bring that back to your band,” the director added.

Legg learned out about the All-Ohio State Fair Band from one of her good friends, Monroeville graduate Megan Doughty, who recommended the experience.

“She was in it for three years on sousaphone,” said the daughter of Brian and Tammy.

“I’ve always wanted to do it and then for me to actually get in, it’s like, ‘Wow. I actually made it,’” Legg added. “All those nights I practiced made it worth it.”

Tammy Legg said she and her husband are very proud of their daughter being accepted into the prestigious band.

“Music is one of her passions. She’s worked very, very hard with her music,” added the mother, who believes Ashlynn can apply what she’s learned to things she wants to accomplish as an adult.

At Monroeville, Ashlynn Legg plays in the concert, marching and pep bands. She also competes in solo-and-ensemble contests and successfully auditioned for the Firelands Honors Band.

“My freshman year, I was second chair in the honors band and in my junior year, I was first chair,” said Legg, who has played the clarinet for about eight years. “I also do the District II honors band.”

Hayes complimented Legg on being an advanced instrumentalist.

“She is a very passionate musician. I got her (as a student) when I believe she was in sixth grade,” the director said. “She just took off. The previous band director started her and got her going and put her in advanced (music) books and so forth immediately.”

Hayes, who has done the same thing, said Legg “just eats it up.”

“She actually has been a very strong leader for years,” said Hayes, who praised Legg for stepping up when the Monroeville band didn’t have any seniors. “She wants her section to be the best. She wants the band to be the best, which is where that leadership comes in.”

New musical experience

Performing in such a large ensemble as the All-Ohio State Fair Band was a large adjustment for Legg.

“I’m used to hearing all the instruments, whereas in a band that big, you only hear your part (or) your instrument,” said Legg, who heard musicians play oboes and bassoons for the first time.

The clarinetist also enjoyed hearing baritones, French horns, tenor and baritone saxophones — instruments that typically aren’t part of the Monroeville bands.

“Hearing those instruments for the first time was beautiful. It’s the best of the best there, so it was gorgeous,” she said.

 

Many rehearsals and performances

“We had over a hundred songs we played. We had 3 1/2 days to prepare them all,” Legg said. “As soon as we were in Columbus, we got the music for the first time and we started rehearsing right off the bat.”

During the first three days of rehearsals, the musicians woke up at 7 a.m. 

“We had a half-hour for breakfast. We practiced (and) we had an hour for lunch, an hour for dinner and we then were dismissed at 10 o’clock at night,” Legg said. “That’s a lot.”

Plenty of practice beforehand was the key to keeping her embouchure durable during the tough practice schedule. Embouchure is the way a musician places his or her mouth on the mouthpiece.

“I had prepared; I had been playing two or three hours a day to prepare myself and so it wasn’t as sore. But by the end of those long rehearsals, when they were finally over, it was pretty sore,” Legg said.

“What really got me were my fingers; they were really, really sore. Even now they’re still sore,” she added.

Realizing she was in a large band, Legg said she didn’t have to play as loud as she does in the Monroeville ensembles. She also kept up her endurance by choosing to practice during breaks by fingering the keys on her clarinet instead of actually playing.

On the opening day of the state fair, the band performed six or seven times. After that, the group averaged four or five daily performances. Legg’s mother heard the band at least three times. She said she was very impressed and could hear the improvement from after the first day of rehearsal to the last day of the fair.

“You could tell they were there because they wanted it,” Tammy Legg said. “They were absolutely phenomenal.”

Ashlynn Legg was asked what recommendations she had for other musicians from rural areas or small schools who want to be in the state fair band.

“Do as much as you can do. Do solo and ensemble; even if you don’t like playing a solo, see if you can find a friend and do a duet or trio. Audition for all the honors bands that you can get your hands on,” she said.

“It doesn’t hurt to audition. The worst that can happen is you don’t get accepted. It’s going to make you that much better.”

Legg recommends musicians practice their audition pieces as much as possible beforehand.

“Practice it in front of an audience, so that way you aren’t as nervous. If it’s a sight-reading piece, just take a deep breath (and) don’t stress about it. The judge knows you are sight reading; just do the best you can and don’t worry about the rest.”

After high school, Legg plans to study nursing at Ashland University.

“I plan on keeping band in my life — whether it’s a marching band, concert band or community band. I need music in my life.”

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