I was able to get into the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University based solely on the fact that I was from Kenosha.

The clarinet professor at the time asked me three questions before I even started playing my last solo and ensemble piece. Those three questions were:

“Where are you from?” Wisconsin.

“What part of Wisconsin?” Kenosha. Him: “OH! you mean where LeBlancs are made! Yep, she has my vote!” Me and everyone else in the room: “But, she (I) didn’t even play yet!”

His third question by almost default was, “What piece are you playing?”

After that, I was in the Youngstown State Marching Pride, which is a corps-style field band, for two seasons where I traveled over most of Ohio and Pennsylvania. I was on the fields of Heinz Field (Steelers), First Energy Stadium (Browns) as well as Beaver Stadium (Penn State) and countless high school fields.

I also had the privilege to march in sub-arctic, instrument freezing, temperatures in Boone, N.C., for a third-round playoff game against Appalachian State before they changed conferences.

I had spent five years in the University Band, which is a non-music major ensemble that is open to anyone on campus. I came to realize that I loved science more than music but not enough to stop playing entirely.

It gave me time to just relax during the also hectic life of a STEM and Social Science double major. I was able to grow more as a musician being at the top of the second section, namely because music majors had first dibs at first. I was totally OK with this.

I still had my fill of solos and part reductions to just me or playing my heart and lungs out at Carmina Burana as a solo because, “I was the only one who could play it right!”

I took a break from music after college to get established in my career path but never forgetting music. In the past three years, I have been playing more and more consistently when I found the beauty and magic of community bands!

I had been second chair in the Tri-State Community Concert Band based out of Steubenville, Ohio, and most recently fourth chair in the CLC Concert Band in Grayslake, Ill.

I am also surrounded by band music all day, every day because my hubby, who is also a Youngstown State alum, is a PK3-12 instrumental music educator.

April Decker (1999-2004)