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By Kim Hurley

Register Freelance Writer


Mid-summer, as we are in now, typically prompts students and faculty to look back upon the last academic year and to look forward to making new memories in the next one. This is especially true for one gifted teenager from Volga who loves tooting her own horn…literally! She’s done so halfway across the country and for nearly half her life. She is Emily Duff, daughter of Pete and Karla Duff, and an incoming senior this fall at Starmont High School.

Emily has been playing trumpet since she was a fifth grader in 2009 and has been a highly accomplished member of the Starmont band. The band marches in the Strawberry Point, Arlington, and Lamont Days parades. It also plays during Labor Day, Memorial Day, and it has several concerts throughout the year. Emily has played “Taps” at Veterans Day and Memorial Day services as well as at the funeral of a veteran. At the end of the year, the band participates in a large group contest. In June, the band members, along with choir members, took a trip to Tennessee. 

This past academic year, Emily was selected to play in the Upper Iowa Conference Honor Band, the NEIBA (Northeast Iowa Bandmasters Association) Honor Band, the Meistersinger Honor Band, and the Wartburg Trumpet Festival. She also participated in the state solo/ensemble contest and received a One (superior) rating on her trumpet solo and trumpet duet (with Allie Shaffer). 

Emily has played in a much larger band and in front of a much larger audience…a national television audience. Last year, she applied for, posted an audition video on YouTube for, and was selected to play in the 2015 Macy’s Great American Marching Band. It is a band made up of nearly 200 high school students from across the country.

She had to fly out to New York the weekend before Thanksgiving to meet up with the rest of the members, who were were really busy the next five days. They spent about four hours each day practicing and learning their songs and drills. They also had the opportunity of going into the city almost every afternoon where they got to explore Times Square and Rockefeller Center, go to a Broadway musical, eat at a lot of good restaurants, and go on a few tours. 

On the day of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the band members were in the city by 2 a.m. in preparation for leading the parade. Although the parade was three miles long, the band’s performance in Herald Square was only about two minutes.

Emily’s musical abilities can also be heard on the piano as well as on the guitar. Starting as a first-grader, she took six years of piano lessons. During the last two years, she’s taken a beginning and an advanced guitar course. However, besides choir, Emily’s interests and talents have expanded into other extracurricular activities such as student council, mentoring, SIAC, volleyball, track, and school plays and musicals. 

Emily plans on continuing to toot her own horn, hoping not only to expand and improve her musical abilities, but also to play trumpet in college.





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