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The Hawkeye

A flutist and her flutes

By Marianne Nacanaynay, Op/Ed Editor

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Senior Kaylee McGovern plays alto saxophone and flute in Jazz 1 and Chamber Winds. She loves both music styles, but it is her proficiency on the flute that has helped her through high school and college.

Senior Kaylee McGovern doesn’t remember too much about her first day of high school. What she does remember is thinking about how far away senior year seemed to be from her.

“There was no way I was going to be like one of those really cool seniors by the end of the year,” McGovern said.

But she made it through four years at Terrace with only a minor hiccup when kicking off senior year.

“I remember being very confused when Mr. Traxler was not in his regular classroom, and he wasn’t in the other classroom for PASS either, and thinking that I was done being lost in my classes years ago,” McGovern said with a laugh.

McGovern is probably best known for her involvement in the band program, contributing her talent to both Chamber Winds and Jazz Ensemble 1 (Jazz 1).

The Jazz 1 band has made a name for itself, whether it’s in making it to Essentially Ellington, or in the numerous evening performances they do, like Hot Java Cool Jazz. Their camaraderie is apparent in their showmanship and attitudes with each other both onstage and off. And McGovern can attest to this.

“I felt so connected to my sax section when we played [at Ellington], and to the band as a whole. I felt like one of our strengths as a band was the way that we… we’re so into each other’s playing. We cheer for each other onstage, and we love that,” McGovern said.

Essentially Ellington is an annual jazz festival held in New York for the best of the best high school jazz bands. While McGovern said she wasn’t nervous, “there was no lull in the level of talent that people were bringing to the stage, and every band that stepped up, you were like, ‘Dang, these guys are really good. Dang, these guys are really good. Everyone’s so good.’”

There’s always self doubt, so don’t get down on yourself when you start experiencing that, because you’ll never feel like you’re good enough, but I think that’s important because it keeps your pride in check.”

— Kaylee McGovern

While McGovern plays alto sax for Jazz 1, she also plays flute for Chamber Winds. Her skills are raved about by fellow Chamber Winds members.

“My brother used to be in band, so we used to go to all the band concerts before I was in the high school… [McGovern] always seemed like she knew what she was doing up there,” sophomore Erica Lampers said.

While McGovern does say she draws inspiration from former seniors, such as Lucy Schermer and private teachers, as well as band teacher Darin Faul. She also said her inspiration comes from “some of the younger guys in the band, actually.”

McGovern mentioned both sophomore Kieran Faris and freshman Caden Hargrave as influences for her.

“Kieran, our drummer, is amazing… He has very strong convictions about his musical taste, but he is such a humble musician. And he’s just killer and he works super hard,” McGovern said. “That’s the kind of player who – it doesn’t matter how old they are, because they bring you up, and same with Caden.”

When Hargrave joined Jazz 1 as a freshman, McGovern remembered being worried Hargrave would threaten her. But McGovern took the high route, deciding to trust Hargrave as a musician and appreciate him instead of trying to fight for status.

“I’m so proud of how far he’s come as a musician… I’m very inspired by his work ethic and his ability to step up in a leadership role and also navigate the first year of high school… with such enthusiasm,” McGovern said. “If I had been that good as a freshman, I can’t imagine where I’d be now.”

But for sophomore Zoe Presho, in Chamber Winds, the tables were turned.

“I was so scared of [McGovern when I first met her]. I was so scared of her… She’s like this tiny little ginger girl, so you wouldn’t think that she’d be so scary,” Presho said. “Then you listen to her talk, and she is so smart; and you hear her play, and you feel like you’re inadequate. Like you shouldn’t even be in the same room as her. And I was so scared of her for like, a month, before I actually got to know her.”

The flutists are quick to mention McGovern’s true personality as someone anyone can turn to for anything at anytime. Whether it’s help on improving technique or tips on how to keep themselves healthy with natural remedies, the latter is something that a number of members of the flute section can attest to.

“She’s the most nurturing person,” Lampers said. “Some days I’ll walk down the hallway in the morning to drop off my instrument, and every time I walk down there I know she’s going to give me a compliment of some sort.”

No one seems to run out of stories of good memories with McGovern. From ballets and french fries to tea addictions, McGovern is widely regarded as a sweetheart and a mom of sorts.

“You’ll be [sick] and if you see her in person or if you text her… She’s super big on nature stuff and she’ll just tell you every cure,” Chamber Winds junior Jessica Gable said.

Junior Lindsey Smith hopes she’s able to continue McGovern’s legacy of kindness to others and be a person others can turn to, just as they have been able to with McGovern.

When McGovern stepped into Chamber Winds halfway through her freshman year, she debated whether she was “allowed” to be good or not. That mentality made her entrance into the band feel awkward.

“And that’s why I didn’t want that to happen with Caden coming into jazz band,” she said. “Because I knew what it was like to be on the other end, to be the freshman coming in who’s like, ‘Are people being threatened by me?’ So I really wanted to create a welcoming environment in that, and I feel like that didn’t happen when I was younger.”

“Sometimes it can be tense if you’re not sure if you should let seniority be a priority or if it should be about talent,” McGovern added.

Now that McGovern is a senior, she’s taken an even bigger leadership role. She said her mentality is to “lead in a way where people trust you… [she] wanted [her] interactions with my flute section to be characterized by love and grace and friendship, rather than just a dictatorship of someone who’s trying to be better and power struggles with talent.”

McGovern wasn’t expecting to have such a strong bond with the flutists in Chamber Winds. But after realizing “there doesn’t have to necessarily be a separation of professional and personal relationships,” She and the other musicians began to spend time with each other more outside of school and band events — creating traditions, like one involving ballets and french fries.

“Gosh, how did that start?” McGovern asked.

Sometimes it can be tense if you’re not sure if you should let seniority be a priority or if it should be about talent.”

— Kaylee McGovern

There’s no particular name for the tradition, but it started when McGovern and a few friends had an extra hour on their hands before a performance of “Romeo and Juliet”, presented by the Pacific Northwest Ballet at McCaw Hall.

“There’s this place that only does french fries [in Seattle Center],” McGovern said. “We were like, ‘Nobody’s really hungry for a meal, so we’ll all just get french fries and lots of different dipping sauces that they have.”

And thus, going for french fries (Cool Guy’s Fry Bar) along with a trip to the ballet became customary. It’s one of the many memories McGovern will take with her to college at the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. to major in peace studies.

“St. Ben’s just really stuck for me,” She said. “I love the people there, I love that they have their own study abroad program, so it fits really well into your graduation timeline, and it’s also pretty comparable to tuition prices inside the country, so I’m really excited for that.”

But before McGovern leaves the hallways of Terrace as a student, she has one last trip for memory making.

“We’re taking a trip, like, the day after school ends, to go to Leavenworth,” Presho said. McGovern said she hopes that the trip will let the more sentimental sides of her flute section come out during their stay before she goes.

McGovern’s learned a lot in the past four years. So as for words of advice for the next leaders in Chamber Winds: “There’s always self doubt, so don’t get down on yourself when you start experiencing that, because you’ll never feel like you’re good enough, but I think that’s important because it keeps your pride in check.”

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
A flutist and her flutes