the span of a decade,
junior Adalyn Bennett has learned to play
just about every instrument out there. She
launched her music career with the piano,
followed by several years on the flute and
then a major switch to the French horn
in high school. She plays the mellophone
and trumpet in pep band.
Bennett also played the church organ
on occasion and picked the guitar up for
a few weeks. A month ago, when she was
in Casper, Bennett bought a ukulele and is
teaching herself how to play using You-
Bennett’s hard work, talent and adaptability
were recognized this year when
she was selected by the Wyoming Music
Educators Association to play the French
horn with the 2019 All-State Honors
Band. Getting into All-State is one of the
highest honors a high school musician can
achieve, and Bennett was the only student
selected this year from Big Piney High
A multidimensional musician
Bennett was in kindergarten when she
first sat down at the piano. Her grandmother
provided the instruction, but
Bennett also found inspiration from her
mother, a local piano teacher in Big Piney.
“My mother is a fabulous teacher,”
said Bennett. “That’s how I started to get
Bennett no longer takes formal piano
lessons, but she still plays for her church
and “for fun.” She is proficient in a wide
range of different keyboard styles, from
sacred hymns to music from the Renaissance.
This year, she learned to play a
piano transcription of one of her favorite
songs, Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
In fifth grade, Bennett joined the elementary
school band and spent the next
four years playing the flute. In ninth
grade, she switched from the woodwinds
to the brass section.
“We hadn’t had a high school French
horn player in years,” she said. “We had
a lot of flutes and not much brass. So Mr.
(Travis) Swanson encouraged me to try
the French horn.”
Bennett quickly mastered the French
horn, stating it was basically a task of
learning “to make music out of something
else.” She performed 19th-century German
composer Franz Strauss’ “Nocturno
for Horn and Piano” at a local music festival.
The piece was “really hard” to study,
but worth it, because Bennett learned that
Big Piney High School musician makes it to All-State
there are “lots of beautiful solo pieces for
A lot of Bennett’s musical inspiration
comes from Broadway musicals.
“The way they tell stories through
music is awesome,” she said. One of her
favorite musicals is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s
“Hamilton.” For her 16th birthday,
Bennett got to see a live performance of
“Hamilton” in Chicago.
Bennett enjoys listening to instrumental
jazz as good “background” music for
studying. Recently, Bennett has become
a big fan of Queen, a “legendary group
of music makers” that she and her friends
“listen to a lot.”
All the way to All-State
This January, Bennett was one of about
80 high school musicians chosen out of a
pool of hundreds of other students from
across Wyoming to perform in the prestigious
All-State Honors Band. The audition
process is grueling and requires a lot
The Wyoming Music Educators Association
sets an audition date and posts
materials online that hopefuls only have a
few weeks to master. In addition to learning
selections from two pieces of music,
those auditioning also have to perform all
the regular scales and a chromatic scale.
Then they have to pass a sight-reading
Bennett explained that she worked with
Big Piney’s band teacher, Travis Swanson,
and Justin Smith from Pinedale High
School to prepare her audition tape. Once
she was selected, Bennett started learning
the five pieces that the All-State Honors
Band performed this January in Casper.
The musicians who arrive in Casper from
around the state have only two busy days
of rehearsal to prepare for the concert.
“They expect you to be pretty well prepared
when you arrive,” Bennett said.
Students from larger schools often
have the luxury of practicing for All-State
with other band, choir or orchestra mates.
Bennett, however, was on her own. She
used YouTube to listen to professional
performances of the pieces and learn her
“YouTube was my best friend,” she
Three of the five pieces were “pretty
easy to put together,” Bennett added. The
fourth was “a little more difficult,” while
the fifth, “Vesuvius” by Frank Ticheli,
was “pretty intense.” Ticheli’s piece
jumps around between lots of unusual
Bennett’s favorite piece was called
“Ammerlande” by contemporary Dutch
composer Jacob de Haan. The selection
was particularly “lush and pretty and really
dramatic,” Bennett said.
This was Bennett’s first year attending
All-State, and the experience was positive.
“The eight people in the horn section
were really great to get to know,” she
said. “It was cool to be around people
who love band and are super passionate
about the music.”
Somehow Bennett manages to find
time to practice the horn and all the other
instruments she plays in between basketball,
swimming in the fall, church activities
and serving on the student council.
Bennett has another year of high school
and plenty of time to figure out what she
wants to do after graduation. But no matter
what path she chooses, she is certain