Trombonist was only Kansan to make band
Marion High School band and FFA member Aidan Cairns received a thrilling message back in July that invited her to toot her trusty trombone with the National FFA band this year.
“I was so, so excited,” Cairns said. “I wasn’t expecting to get in. A lot of people try out.”
When she performs at the National FFA Convention and Expo this week in Louisville, Kentucky, agriculture education instructor Mark Meyer said Cairns will be the only Kansan to perform with the band.
“Several students from Kansas applied, but she was the only one who made,” he said.
Cairns said two other Kansans were selected to perform in different areas — one in the chorus, the other in talent. She will play in the event’s concert and pep bands.
“Aidan is justa wonderful young lady,” Marion band director Chris Barlow said. “ She has a great work ethic and is just very dedicated. This is a big honor for her.”
Cairns has attended the national event before but never as part of the band. The experience will marry two of her favorite pastimes, FFA and music.
“I’m looking forward to meeting people from all over the United States who share the same interests and passions as me,” Cairns said Thursday, “and I can’t wait to play some really great music.”
Her relationship with the trombone started in fifth grade when she chose it because of its simplicity. Now, at 16, the MHS junior said she enjoys her instrument’s brassy sound.
“It’s fun to play,” Cairns said. “When I was in seventh grade I had a little trouble figuring out the different notes, but I became confident with it in eighth grade.”
In the past, she has auditioned for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and for state FFA band but this year was the first time she ever tried out for a national band.
She auditioned with Barlow’s help. They worked on a song called “Andante Et Allegro” before and after school and during seminar. Once she was ready, Barlow recorded a video of Cairns performing the solo.
“The song I play was slower during the first part and the second part is really fast with a lot of notes moving up and down,” Cairns said. “It took a while to record. We did multiple takes and then edited them together with a video editor.”
Barlow said the solo was a college level piece written specifically for trombone.
The song’s fast notes and intricate rhythms took a little while to perfect, but she said Barlow help her tighten things up.
She would play the fast parts slow when she practice and gradually sped up.
“We recorded her playing four or five takes,” Barlow said. “We did each segment until she was happy with it. Then we edited it together with Windows Movie Maker, and emailed it off.”
In the future, Cairns plans to attend college and major in chemical engineering,
“I’m definitely going keep playing my trombone,” she said. “If I can play in a college band, I will. I really like performing with other people.”