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Barn Notes: Thursday, July 26, 2012
ARLINGTON BUGLER JEAN LAURENZ: WATCHING THE MAKING OF A STAR
What a pleasure it has been over the last few summers for Arlington's guests to watch the musical growth of bugler Jean Laurenz, and lately her star just seems to keep on rising.
Laurenz, who was born and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois, first came to Arlington as its official bugler halfway through the local 2008 session while she was still an undergraduate at Northwestern University in pursuit of a degree in music and education.
"I was really lucky to even get to audition for the job," Laurenz said at the time. "My Mom read the announcement of the audition somewhere, called me to tell me about it and I was able to make it out to the track for the audition that same afternoon."
Midway through last year's session at Arlington Laurenz found out she was one of three people that summer who had been accepted into a two-year program at Yale University in pursuit of a Master's Degree in Music. Naturally, she was granted a temporary leave of absence from the local oval shortly after the 2011 Arlington Million in order to move to New England but she returned to her hometown in time to be Arlington's bugler again this season.
"That was a huge honor," Laurenz said this week of being accepted into the Yale program. "There are only six trumpet players – three from each year – in the program at any given time."
Once again this summer, however, the honors have kept on coming for Laurenz. The 25- year-old musician recently learned that she is one of only 25 professional trumpeters in the nation who have been selected to fly to Washington, D.C., and get the opportunity to audition for the United States Air Force Band.
"It's a long shot that I will even be selected to get in the band," Laurenz said, "but to be one of the 25 people selected to fly in to Washington from the hundreds who applied for the job is an awesome honor. That's the same military band that plays for the President of the United States. It's a win-win situation for me to even get the chance to go."
However, as guests of Arlington know, in addition to playing "Boots and Saddles" before each race during Arlington's weekend programs, Laurenz now also sings the National Anthem.
In fact, during Arlington's annual Fourth of July Fireworks Show, Laurenz performs the Anthem while standing on top of the Jumbotron in Arlington's infield.
"I started out singing just for fun," Laurenz said of her constantly improving second musical talent, "but now I want to diversify in my career. I enjoy singing and performing outside the trumpet world and I especially enjoy singing patriotic songs. There is nothing more prideful for me than singing those kinds of songs.
"While I was at Northwestern, I was a member of an 'a cappella' pop-blues group, and at Yale I was in a semi-professional choir, but I don't have the opportunity to sing pop-blues anymore," Laurenz said. "Arlington is the only place I get to sing now, but one of my goals lately is to get my voice out there a little more.
"I always known how to negotiate my way around the trumpet world but there is no academia for pop voice," Laurenz said. "That's why I am constantly tweaking the National Anthem each time I perform it. I'm always trying new things with my voice. I'm always trying to push my performance a little, because eventually I'd like my musical career to be a combination of performing and also teaching music.
"In fact, on Tuesdays this summer I'm part of a teaching program in Glenview that helps the elderly and some people with disabilities relearn how to play the instruments they might have enjoyed when they were younger," Laurenz said. "That program helps the cognitive part of the mind to keep going and provides these people with a cognitive as well as social outlet.
"I really hesitate to call any of these people elderly because I consider them to be my friends," Laurenz concluded. "The people that have become my friends as a result of this class are actually some of the sharpest and most 'with it' people that I know, and I very much enjoy being given the opportunity to rehearse with them."