THS senior percussionist selected for OMEA All-State Band

TROY — Nathan Weidner began his band career following in older sister Shana’s footsteps. Now, however, the Troy High School senior is going where few before him have.

Weidner, a senior percussionist with the Troy High School band, recently learned he has been selected to be a part of the prestigious Ohio Music Education Association All-State Band.

“(Assistant band director and percussion director) Mr. (Casey) Layer just came up to me and asked if I wanted to audition for this all-state band, and I had heard about it before,” Weidner said. “Some of my friends had participated in it and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to a higher level with the music I’m playing.”

Getting into the OMEA All-State Band was a highly competitive process for Weidner.

“The OMEA All-State Band is one of the most competitively auditioned ensembles in Ohio,” Layer said. “Students from all over the state prepare several etudes, scales and a solo specifically for this audition. It takes months to prepare the literature to a level that is worthy of an audition recording. After the material is prepared, students need to submit a video recording of themselves playing the audition material in one continuous take.

“This is a rare occurrence at Troy. Frequently students will prepare the literature as an exercise, but few have the commitment and drive that Nathan does to see the entire process through. It really is a grueling, yet insanely rewarding process. The last student to make the band was Shogo Nakayama on tenor saxophone in 2020.”

Weidner still remembers the moment Layer told him he had made the cut.

“Pretty ecstatic,” Weidner said. “I was just surprised. I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for it.”

Weidner first became interested in the band in fourth grade while watching his sister Shana, a 2018 Troy graduate, perform. In the sixth grade, he began to officially perform with the Troy band, which has since become a major part of his life.

“I found the drums really interesting, especially in sixth grade when they did the recruitment,” Weidner said. “All the drums came in playing and I really thought it was pretty cool. So I auditioned for percussion, made it in, and from sixth through eighth grade, it was more concert music and I was OK with it, but then eighth grade is when I joined indoor percussion, and that’s how I really got into drumline, and then I made it onto the snare line my freshman year for high school marching band and I continued that for all marching seasons and indoor seasons.”

Layer said Weidner has been one of the most-dedicated musicians he’s ever had in class.

“Nathan is the kind of student that every teacher loves teaching,” Layer said. “In his younger years as a developing musician, Nathan was always hungry for more. It was exciting watching him grow up because you could always tell the kind of musician he was capable of being. When you mix an immense amount of raw talent with incredible drive and enthusiasm toward growing as a musician, you get Nathan.

“He’s also been an exceptional leader throughout his time with our ensembles. His peers look up to him and he has been instrumental in developing a positive, growth-mindset in our ensembles. I can think of very few times when I have asked Nathan to complete a task and he has not exceeded my expectations. He is truly one of the most exceptional students to come through the Troy Band Program since I began in 2016.”

Weidner will continue performing with the Troy High School marching band, which already has earned a superior rating and a spot in the state finals at the end of October, this fall. He will then perform with Troy’s indoor percussion ensemble this winter. At the same time, he will also be preparing to perform with the OMEA All-State band.

“I’ll eventually get the music sent to me, and what parts I have, and in February is when I’ll be going to Columbus, where we’ll have rehearsals and then a few performances of all the different pieces that we’ve prepared,” he said.

Weidner, a senior, was last year’s winner of the Rensselaer Medal, given each year at Troy to the top mathematics student in the junior class. He plans to study aerospace engineering in college.

“I am looking around at a lot of places right now,” he said. “I might continue with band. I know I want to continue with drum corps. I marched an open class, all-age drum corps last year.”