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WATCH: Middle School Band Dropouts

Ah, middle school. Those awkward formative years of growing (or not growing), trying to make friends, and being thrown into new experiences like band class. For some, this is a great experience — orchestra and band have opened doors for so many of our Denver Philharmonic musicians leading them on paths into music careers, or sometimes these experiences serve orchestra members as a lifelong skill that can supplement their professional careers.

Then there are DPO executive board members, Jon Olafson, Sarah Hogan, and Matt Meier.

No one volunteered to play the oboe in DPO Board President Jon Olafson’s 8th-grade band class. While Jon started as a tenor saxophone player, he never thought about life in the front rows. Never one to back away from a challenge, Jon proudly picked up the oboe. His parents likened the sound he created on the instrument for the first 3–4 years as “strangling a duck.” He admits he enjoyed playing through high school and sometimes thinks about it. In a world dominated by haughty violinists and loud brass, Jon will forever be a champion of the double-reed. Last played: 1995

Like nearly all of DPO Vice President Sarah Hogan’s close girlfriends in 5th grade (many of whom were also named Sarah) the flute spoke to her on instrument demo day. It was so sleek, didn’t require spit to make it work, and came in the cutest carrying case! By 8th grade, the pack had thinned. She made a real connection with the instrument and loved fighting for the solo parts in the orchestra. After a dozen years of lessons, sectionals, and performances, she made the hasty decision to quit forever. Last played: 1999

Youngest child and DPO Board Secretary Matt Meier “picked” the clarinet because his older brother played it for a year or two, and the Meiers were big into hand-me-downs. That was maybe 5th grade, and throughout three years of middle school, Matt rarely practiced the clarinet — in-part due to his sister’s screaming protests — and proudly sat 14th chair. Last played: 2001

Jon, Sarah, and Matt may be middle school band dropouts and won’t soon be auditioning for a seat in the orchestra, but you can make them come out of retirement and pick up their woodwinds once more.

If we hit our goal of $1,500, the trio will perform Mozart — in front of Mozart’s home in Salzburg, Austria — on video for your entertainment.

And, trust us, this will be entertainment. So, if you love to watch grown adults embarrass themselves, internationally, for the sake of a great organization, this is just the fundraiser for you.

All money raised from their embarrassment will help send seven principal musicians on exchange to Germany to perform with the Bavarian Philharmonic this October.

***UPDATE! We reached $1,500! Thanks to all who donated!***

***UPDATE! STRETCH GOAL! If we hit $2,000, we will wear powdered wigs while we play.***

***UPDATE! THANK YOU to everyone who contributed! We reached just over $2,000 raised! Our trio delighted the crowd of tourists at Mozart’s Birthplace in Salzburg. Stay tuned for the video evidence.***