Competition makes NKU student’s dreams crescendo

Heather Hale grew up surrounded by clarinets, trumpets and guard girls. As the daughter of two band directors at Bourbon County High School, where the marching band program is incredibly strong, it was almost inevitable that Hale would become involved in music.


Nancy Curtis

“I’m a really expressive person,” said Hale, who is a music performance trumpet major. “I’m dramatic all the time and [performance] is another outlet for me.”

Hale is taking all that life-long experience beyond campus at The National Trumpet Competition. She was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants who submitted video performances screened by the competition committee.

Hale has now entered the semi-finals being one of the 40 best in the nation chosen to perform in the Undergraduate Division, which is limited to students under the age of 25 who are enrolled in full-time undergraduate music programs in the country.

“I could not be prouder of Heather,” said Raquel Rodriguez, music professor and Heather’s teacher. “I’m not surprised at all. I just think she’s destined for greater things.”

Hale auditioned for the competition last year as a freshman, but didn’t make the cut. This year, Rodriguez felt Hale knew the ropes even better. She is only a sophomore and, at 20 years old, it’s an incredible feat to be selected, Rodriguez explained.

“It’s a pretty big honor considering our size of school and her age as well,” Rodriguez said.

Hale will be going up against peers from major music conservatories in the nation, including Juilliard which is known as one of the best music conservatories in world.

While it is a competition, it’s also a conference that Hale hopes to take a lot away from, win or lose.

“My main thing is to get a lot of inspiration and motivation,” Hale said. “I’m excited to learn new things and hear other people perform.”

The opportunity of being a part of this competition is the best one Hale says she’s received in terms of trumpet playing. Hale is also active in musical theater, dance and according to Rodriguez, is the top singing soprano in the department.

“I think when she first came here, she wanted to do it all,” Rodriguez said. “She wanted to be the next broadway superstar. I think she can do it. She has so much determination and an excellent work ethic.”

Hale says she’s busy a lot, but being busy just makes her better at her craft. She’ll be put to the test during the competition and she has high hopes for the outcome.

“It’d be crazy if I won. I’m not sure if there’s a cash prize or a prize at all,” Hale said. “I mean, I wouldn’t care at all just to be able to say that I won the National Trumpet Competition for Undergraduate Division. I just think that would be a great honor.”

Making the semi-finals alone was an accomplishment that Hale was proud of, but to make it into the top four in the finals would be “awesome.” She goes into the competition both excited and nervous and only hopes that she’ll do her best.

Rodriguez is completely confident in Hale’s ability and knows that no matter what happens at the competition, she’ll go on to be very successful.

“She has all the confidence in the world and the talent to back it up,” Rodriguez said. “I see her as having no limitations at all, and I would not be surprised if she won.”

Hale will compete in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania on the Messiah College campus from March 20-23.