Corley Auditorium was open to the friends and family of senior Caitlin James on Thursday, Jan. 17 for her trombone recital, a performance that had been in the works since she was in sixth grade.

The Instrumental Music Education major has been surrounded by music her whole life–a brother who played guitar and a dad who played guitar and piano. She always felt supported by her family.

She admits she wanted to pursue trumpet but discovered that the trombone was a natural fit.

“Any sixth grader has a rocky start when it comes to playing their instrument,” said James. “You bring the horn home and you want to be loud and experiment with it and see what noises it makes.”

Flash forward to the recital, where James performed a variety of pieces that showcased her abilities. Each piece brought its own challenge, but James said her favorite was by Arthur Pryor.

“I’ve played it before, in high school, so it was one of those ‘challenge accepted’ moments. Now it’s time to play the big kid version,” said James. “Everything he puts out is great music. It’s technical, sweet with a waltz feel.”

The quartet at the end of the night was especially meaningful for James, as she got to be on stage with the guys who turned into brothers.

Being in the quartet was one of her favorite parts of the trombone studio.

“Those are my boys,” said James. “It’s strange because I’m the only girl, and there have been a couple that have come and go but I’m the only girl that’s been here the whole time.”

While most of James’ family sat towards the front of the stage, sitting in the back of the auditorium, dressed to the nines and gleaming with pride, was James’ mentor and advisor Dr. Philip Wise.

“She’s very committed to what she’s doing, committed to her instrument, and dedicated to the art of musicianship, said Wise, director of Jazz, Music Education, Trombone, Jazz Combo and Improvisation. “She’s going to go out and be an outstanding music educator.”

James expressed gratitude for how Wise has helped her during her time at Missouri Southern–musically and personally.

“Life hits you when you’re in college,” said James. “He was just there for me for all of it.

“He was open to what I needed to talk about and how things in my life would affect my playing. He cared a lot more about me as a person than he did just as a musician.”

Wise hopes other students can emulate the diligence and work ethic James has displayed over the years.

“I’ve known Caitlin since she was in junior high school, so I’ve had the chance to see her grow and mature musically and personally,” said Wise. “That’s been a joy.”

Looking ahead, James plans to student teach in the fall. Long term, she knows she wants to pursue a master’s degree.

For now, James is thankful she was able to be a part of a growing music program and she said she will miss the students and faculty she’s met here.

“I’m thankful for the time I’ve had here,” said James. “Sometimes I think Southern doesn’t get enough credit for their music department and there’s a lot more here than people think.”

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