By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN Sabrina Kieser, a senior at Howard Lake Waverly Winsted (HLWW) High School recently traveled to Indianapolis, IN to be a part of the (FFA) Band.
Only three students from Minnesota, including Kieser, were chosen to be part of this year’s National FFA Band.
To be a part of the National FFA Band, students must first try out for, and be accepted to, the State FFA Band.
Try outs for the state band are in March, and students find out in April whether they have been accepted or not.
Kieser was accepted into the state band, along with 50 other students.
After being accepted into the State FFA Band, students are given the opportunity to try out for the National FFA Band.
This was the second year Kieser was a part of the National FFA Band, which is an opportunity only 80 students from throughout the US were able to experience.
Kieser enjoys being a part of the National FFA Band. “I felt like a VIP. We got special passes and were able to go wherever we wanted. We also met a lot of people from around the country, and got to know them well,” she said.
Because of Kieser’s participation in this year’s National FFA Band, she was given the opportunity to try out for another national band, one that traveled to Europe.
Playing flute in Europe
The director for the National FFA Band asked those who tried out this year if they wanted him to forward their audition tapes to the John Philip Sousa Collegiate Honors Band.
Thinking this would be a good opportunity, Kieser allowed the director to forward her audition tape.
Kieser was accepted into the band along with 50 to 60 students from throughout the US.
The John Philip Sousa Collegiate Honors Band performed concerts in royal gardens throughout Europe.
For two-and-one-half weeks, the band traveled to several countries, including Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and the Netherlands.
“It was amazing! Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’m glad I took advantage of it,” Kieser said.
Sleeping in a castle, touring palaces, seeing the Eiffel Tower, and visiting the Louvre were some of the exciting experiences Kieser had in her European travels.
The group spent the most time in France during France’s Independence Day celebrations.
“We were able to see the fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower, and the entire thing was like a grand finale,” Kieser said.
When asked her favorite part of the trip through Europe, Kieser replied, “Standing on a mountain in France. Not many people can say they stood on top of a mountain in France.”
Trying the European cuisine was also an enjoyable experience for Kieser in Europe.
One of the foods she tried in Germany was pork and sour kraut with bread dumplings. “Being German, I really liked this food,” Kieser said.
Another food Kieser tried and was surprised she liked was duck, which she had in France.
Getting to know a little bit about the different cultures and meeting the people of Europe were among the highlights for Kieser.
Most of the nights they were in Europe were spent at a host family’s home, so the students on the trip were really immersed in experiencing the culture.
“The people in Europe really seem to like music and appreciate it so much more,” Kieser said.