For any who see the marching band perform at halftime, the enthusiasm of junior Emma Kleine radiates from one of the drum major stands. Participating in her sixth year of band, Kleine represents the best of NC’s renowned music program, combining hard work and talent. Like several others in band, Kleine’s love of music started early, coalescing in sixth grade as she chose an instrument for band.
“My sister, she played the oboe in middle school when she was in sixth grade. I was like, oh, hey, that’s cool. I’ll do band, why not? So I was honestly so set on the trumpet. And then they walked out with a trombone,” Kleine said.
Kleine played trombone throughout middle school, continuing her passion for the instrument in high school. As she expanded her musical horizons, Kleine learned about the Governor’s Honors Program (GHP), a residential summer camp catered to the best students in each subject, including music. The statewide program requires extensive interviews and auditions, putting each applicant through an intense screening process designed to find the best students in the state.
“I honestly was like yeah, I’m not making it. There is absolutely no way because I mean, I was a sophomore, going into my junior year, and I was like, Hey, I’ll just do this for learning experience because like there’s [practice] interviews and applications. During the process, I realized, hey, I’ve done a few things music-wise, and I’m like, oh, maybe I can do this,” Kleine said.
The program accepted Kleine, and she went on to spend part of her summer at Berry College, GHP’s current home. Through the camp’s duration, Kleine developed her skills in trombone as well as leadership experience that quickly became relevant as she gained the role of a drum major in marching band this fall. However, the opportunity to spend time with like-minded musicians stood out as Kleine’s favorite part.
“I met so many kind people, especially my brass group. I mean, we were all experienced musicians, but we weren’t there for competition. We were there to help each other,” Kleine said.
Outside of GHP and school band, Kleine has found another way to share her love of music with others: posting covers of songs she likes on social media. Her followers enjoy the opportunity to watch her showcase talents on guitar, vocals, and trombone. When the pandemic threw school into limbo, Kleine seized the gift of extra time to practice her craft. Kleine began to overcome her mental blocks around creating her own music, and soon started producing original songs for herself.
“I’ve always loved making music, but I hadn’t really acted on it because I didn’t think I have the ability to or I had enough experience, but then I realized hey, I can’t make something great if I don’t try. So over the summer during quarantine, I started making a lot of music. Music has a lot to do with your own experience. As I get older, I gain more experience or things happen to me-good and bad-so I had a lot more to work with. It just happened naturally, over time,” Kleine said.
Kleine plans to continue spreading her contagious enthusiasm with others by eventually majoring in music education. For all that know her, this path fits Kleine’s repertoire well. She also hopes to continue creating her own original music, honing a skill set she can enjoy no matter where life takes her.