Baldwin High School Sophomore Kody Reese has lived to be part of a band his whole life, and now he's part of the biggest band in Georgia. The Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA) All-State Band gathers the most talented student musicians from middle school to high school, across all of Georgia to participate in a concert that they'll have only about a day to prepare for after receiving their music. That's precisely why it's so important that students are able to sight read for their auditions according to Baldwin County Schools Percussion Director Christopher Ryles.
"State auditions are held on the Saturday after we come back from Christmas break," Ryles said, "obviously Kody scored really high on that audition because he's now principal timpanist." Ryles said that this is not only a win for Kody, but a win for the Baldwin County Music program as well, "I've been here for six years, and we're slowly trying to build a program to where we get on that state recognition level, and then eventually get on the national level. And having a student make it to All-State Band just solidifies that step in the process I'm trying to create here."
Kody Reese himself has a deep multi-generational musical background. "My whole family is into music," he said, "my grandaddy, he played percussion. My aunt played clarinet. All my cousins, three of them play percussion, one plays saxophone. And my Dad plays the clarinet." Reese says that out of all of his family, he's the first to make All-State. "I made them proud," he said.
Reese will play first chair timpani, which is an instrument comprised of five large drums tuned to different pitches. Ryles said that when most students come in, they want to play drums, but he's adamant that percussionists do it all. "We're not just drummers, we're percussionists. We play it all. We do everything."
In addition to being a natural talent, Ryles said that Reese's work ethic is incredible. "We came in during Christmas Break," Ryles said, "On Wednesdays of the break I blocked out time, and then we had two other percussionists coming in because we were getting ready for a clinic that we were doing at Georgia College for Percussion Day. So these kids have got the work ethic, but he also has that natural talent, and when you've got that talent plus that work ethic, the sky's the limit."