Frenship graduate wins national woodwind competition

A band director at Frenship High School spoke glowingly of 2012 graduate Omar Haney, who has already won a national music award.

“I’m not surprised. In high school, he accomplished many great things,” Tom SoRelle, FHS band director, said, adding that all of the Frenship staff are very proud of Haney.

SoRelle predicted that Haney would attribute his success to luck, but he said Haney’s success is more likely due to his “amazing” work ethic.

“If you’re not prepared when you get there, it doesn’t matter how lucky you are. But he’s always prepared,” SoRelle said. “When he starts a task, he generally finishes it. No, I’m not surprised at anything he does.”

Haney won top honors at the Music Teachers National Association Senior Woodwind Competition on March 11. The competition was held in Anaheim, Calif. Haney won $2,000 from the MTNA Foundation Fund after competing against six other national finalists.

Haney played “Concerto” by Pierre Max Dubois, “Mai” by Ryo Noda and a transcription of Bach’s “Flute Partita in A Minor.”

Haney said he was surprised to win, and his reaction when he was named the winner was to simply smile.

“That was really all I could do. They said it, and it was one of those things that I didn’t really expect,” he said. “Right after the award ceremony, I went and just spent some time by myself to kind of come down.”

The next day, he was performing in front of 1,000 people in the Magic Kingdom Ballroom. The competition was held in the Disneyland Resort at the Paradise Pier Hotel.

“I walked in there for my performance and it was like, ‘Whoa, this is much bigger than I thought it’d be,’ ” he said.

Haney said his current saxophone instructor, Debra Richtmeyer at the University of Illinois in Urbana, has advised him and other students to not let the pressure of competing get to them, and instead to enjoy performing music.

He said he thought of that message and set out to just enjoy his own performance in Anaheim.

Haney told Frenship Today in his sophomore year of high school that he practiced six hours a day to earn a spot in the Texas All-State band on tenor sax. Two years later, he was named to the band again as an alto sax player. He was also featured on the cover of Southwestern Musician and won state solo champion last summer at the Texas Solo and Ensemble contest.

Reached at the University of Illinois in Urbana, where he is now a freshman majoring in saxophone performance and music education, he said he is usually only able to get two hours of practice in on weekdays, while he can practice more on weekends. He is per forming in a large ensemble and in the saxophone quartet and has practices for both several days a week. He also has to spend time in classes and doing homework.

Haney said he set a goal for himself to compete in the MTNA Senior Woodwind Competition at the beginning of his freshman year.

As SoRelle predicted, Haney did attribute some of his success to luck.

“I practiced as much as I could and I put myself out there,” he said. “It’s just one of those years that it went well for me, I guess.”

Haney said he has used the guidance of all of his music instructors over the years, including SoRelle and David Dees, his private instructor in Lubbock.

“I do what they tell me, and almost always, it works out,” he said.

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