Indianapolis played host to this year’s annual National FFA Convention, drawing thousands of FFA members from across the nation. Among them was Junior Gary Vance from the Spotswood FFA Chapter, a notable trumpet player who secured the prestigious opportunity to perform with the National FFA Band for the second consecutive year.
Vance’s journey began in the bustling city the Saturday before the convention, where he immediately immersed himself in rehearsals, acquainting himself with fellow band members and mastering 12 selected compositions. Throughout the convention week, Vance and the band mesmerized audiences with live concerts 11 times, showcasing their talent not only in public performances but also during a practice round in front of the National FFA Officer team and the CEO of the National FFA Organization.
Reflecting on the experience, Vance expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “It was really cool, and we sounded really good.”
The National FFA Organization reveals that the band, a tradition spanning over 75 years, brings together students who share a passion for agriculture and a musical gift. Selection for the ensemble is based on a rigorous evaluation of recorded scales and solo pieces.
Vance’s musical journey began in sixth grade, inspired by his father’s musical prowess. His love for the trumpet blossomed, driven by both his skill and passion for the instrument. “Music is what started everything,” Vance emphasized, “and it’s something you can play until you die.”
While pursuing his musical interests, Vance joined the FFA as a freshman and discovered another avenue for his passion. Introduced to the opportunity for band enthusiasts within the FFA, Vance decided to give it a shot, and to his delight, he found success. In his inaugural year, Vance represented the state of Virginia as the sole band member. This year, he was one of three. Impressed by the numbers, Vance highlighted the competitive nature of the process, with 85 FFA members selected for the National FFA Band out of 300-400 applicants from each state.
A trailblazer for Spotswood, Vance stands as the only member from his chapter to have joined the National FFA Band. Eager to inspire fellow FFA members, he encouraged them not to shy away from auditions. “Don’t be afraid to audition. You just have to go for it,” Vance asserted, emphasizing the incredible convergence of individuals united by both FFA and a shared love for music.