Howland senior performs at Disney

HOWLAND — As a curious 8-year-old, Jessica Spore, of Howland, was rummaging around her family’s basement when she stumbled upon a clarinet in her father’s instrument collection. Taken with the instrument, she said she begged her father for lessons.

“I was really curious,” Spore said. “I wasn’t sure what it was. I wanted to keep learning about it.”

At church, she met Nancy Moore, private music teacher and retired Howland High School band director, who said in order for Spore to play the instrument correctly, she would have to wait for her front teeth to grow in.

Within a few weeks Spore’s teeth grew in, marking a turning point in her life.

Now, 10 years, countless practices and lengthy auditions later, Spore performed Nov. 29 as first chair clarinet with the National Association for Music Education’s All-National Honor Ensemble in Florida. During the four-day trip, Spore said she worked with national conductors, equally talented student musicians and performed a free performance at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

“I just think it’s absolutely crazy,” said Spore, a senior at Howland High School. “It’s something I was just doing for fun.”

As a junior, Spore auditioned for the state’s music education organization, Ohio Music Education Association, Moore said.

“At the time I didn’t really think there was anything special about my music,” Spore said. “I was just auditioning because of the experience.”

She sent in her audition video and was accepted into the state association’s orchestra as first chair clarinet, Spore said.

“She’s technically very proficient on the clarinet and also very musical,” Moore said. “She can just taper off and soften, so it makes your ear want to hear more.”

Having been accepted into the state association group, Spore was then eligible to audition for the national association, band director Greg Rezabek, said.

“I’ve heard a lot of high school students, but she is a student that plays well beyond the level of most high school students,” Rezabek said.

After viewing the national association’s audition material, “Etude No. 5” by Cyrille Rose, Spore said she believed she had the ability to play it and took it with her to her lesson.

“It was probably the best piece of music I ever played,” Spore said. “It was so much fun.”

In July 2017, she found out she was accepted into the national association and would later perform as first chair clarinet with the national ensemble.

In all her years of teaching music, Moore said she has had students in the state association, but never in the national association.

“It kind of proved to me that I have what it takes,” Spore said. “It’s a tough industry to make it in and it gave me a lot of validation.”

Whenever she’s not busy, Spore said she is practicing the performance material, and whenever she can’t practice, she is reading the music.

“I am such a perfectionist,” Spore said. “The thing with music is you can never get 100 percent. You can absolutely never be perfect with it, so it takes the stress away. You can always have fun and fall in love with it.”

Spore said she attributes a lot of her success to Moore, Rezabek and her directors for supporting and encouraging her to be better.

When she graduates she hopes to study to be a music therapist. Spore is the daughter of Ron and Sue Spore of Howland.