An Exceptional Student

PANAMA – A Panama Central School senior will head to Rochester in December for an audition that will determine whether she ranks as the first or second most talented high school euphonium player of New York.

Heather Yeager, a resident of Bear Lake, Pa., is currently preparing three songs that she will perform at Chautauqua, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Erie counties sectional all-state at SUNY Fredonia this month and four more songs for the New York State School of Music Association all-state Wind Ensemble at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester on Dec. 5-8.

According to Anne Dolce, band director of Panama Central School, during the first day of the event, Yeager will audition for the first or second seat of the wind ensemble, ranking her as one of the best high school euphonium players of New York.

“I’m very proud of her – she represents where the bar is set for the program,” Dolce said. “The other students look up to her, and she’s a very good leader. She’s worked very hard to get to where she is, and she really has some clear-cut goals – she’s going to do very well.”

“I was really determined – so it was like, ‘Yay, finally!'” Yeager added. “When I found out, I was so happy, but I knew that I wanted to get it so when I found out it was like the puzzle pieces fitting perfectly.”

The path to all-state hasn’t been an easy one, and began for Yeager when she was in seventh grade, she said. Even though she is a Pennsylvania resident, Yeager opted to attend Panama Central School so that she would have access to the New York State School of Music Association, which has six levels of achievement as opposed to Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s five levels. After reaching the highest level of achievement, junior and senior participants have the option of attending a New York State School of Music Association solo festival to qualify for all-state.

“Last year I got a 99 out of 100, which is what kept me from going to all-state last year – but, this year I got a 100,” Yeager said.

In addition to her all-state selection, Yeager was the recipient of $400 from the Chautauqua County Music Teacher Association scholarship program. Receiving the award gave her the opportunity to perform during the association’s annual banquet that was held in October at Webb’s in Mayville. She’ll also have the opportunity to earn another $500, and a locally handcrafted music stand before graduating. She is also a past recipient of Mozart Club and jazz scholarships.

Yeager attributes much of her success to Dolce, who has served as a strong influence and supporter and also to her private teacher, Bill Knight, of Jamestown. Yeager’s father, Jerry, and mother, Shawn, have also been very supportive of her efforts, she said.

After graduating high school, Yeager plans on studying music education, and is currently looking at Baldwin-Wallace University of Ohio and West Virginia University. To prepare for working in the field, Yeager volunteers her time to work with Dolce’s elementary band students. She has also begun taking private piano and cello lessons, as well as dabbling with clarinet, trumpet, alto saxophone and trombone. She is also looking at purchasing a professional model euphonium by Wilson, which is at least a $6,000 investment, she said.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher because I always liked working with kids,” Yeager said. “But, when I started working with Bill Knight I started loving and appreciating music because you get to work at your own pace.”

Not only is Yeager a talented musician, but she is also a model. She is currently represented by Major Model Management of New York and Streamline Model Management of Philadelphia. She was featured on the front cover of Stitches Magazine’s September issue, and had more than seven other photos inside the edition. To see the spread, visit www.streamlinemodel.com.

Yeager will perform in concert on Saturday, Dec. 7, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Kodak Hall in Eastman Theatre. The performance is open to the public, and tickets are available at the Eastman Theatre box office by calling 585-454-2100. The Eastman School of Music is located at 26 Gibbs St. in Rochester. For more information, visit www.esm.rochester.edu or www.nyssma.org.