Music memories: Kathi Johnson

Kathi (Negro) Johnson

Software quality and test leader for Ingersoll Rand

School: Lovell High School band member

• My favorite memory from my school music career is: When I was a senior in HS several friends had either graduated or quit band. I wanted to quit, too. But I stuck with it and ended up as first chair trumpet. I was both thrilled and scared about that since I felt it meant a little extra responsibility for the whole trumpet section. When festival time came around the LHS band got a 1 for their concert performance. Since I’ve always thought trumpets are the center of the universe (joking! sort of) I was ecstatic because it confirmed my leadership skills in a way :).

• What I learned from school music which has helped me most in life is: I am convinced that reading music and learning to put tunes together exercises your brain in an important way, like math and logic. School music forced me to perform in front of people, which has never been my favorite thing, but it’s really good as I was forced to do it. It helped me develop self-confidence and teamwork skills. Plus I have a greater appreciation of music in general.

• How I use what I’ve experienced in school music in my career: In my career I often need to present things to groups and crowds. All of those band concerts, solos and ensemble performances that I dreaded gave me good experience in that area and helped me to experience and understand ‘stage fright.’ Also, when you’re in a band you have to learn to play well with others in your section and the whole band. Hence you learned to work as a team, which is important in my career.

• I am active in music in the following ways:  I play in a community band, La Crosse Da Capo Concert Band. Sometimes I’m asked to play in brass ensembles for other events (playing trumpet in a brass quartet for an Easter Vigil church service last weekend). Have also played in a bell choir in the past. I also play piano for fun and have recently taken up ukelele and played off and on in our local Cheezland Uke Band.

• Other comments: Despite the fact that I grumbled every now and then about ‘having to be in band,’ I think it’s important that kids be encouraged and have the opportunity to participate in school music programs. And I believe it’s important that schools offer both band and choir options. I’ve never been a singer so if choir had been the only option I would have missed out on acquiring musical skills and the opportunities I’ve had in life as a result. One other point is that I had a job in high school that prevented me from going out for sports, so band is where I learned a lot of those things others learn in sports.