HUDSON — Instruments are expensive and when it came time to choose one to play, Shane Falco didn’t have many choices. The Hudson Middle School student, then a sixth-grader, picked out a trumpet “because it was the cheapest thing,” he said.
Now an eighth-grade student, the 13-year-old has made a name for himself as a talented musician and the only middle school student in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties to earn a spot in this year’s Florida All-State Band. While he’ll be playing trumpet for the band’s Jan. 11 concert at the Tampa convention Center, the multitalented musician also plays the keyboard, tuba and saxophone, the last two of which he learned entirely on his own, said Shane’s band director, John Keon.
Shane said he didn’t feel prepared in seventh grade to try out for the all-state band but was ready this year. The slightly nervous trumpet player took his place in the small recording room at Stewart Middle School in Zephyrhills earlier this fall to play seven chromatic scales, prepared exercises and sight-reading tests, all of which were recorded and sent to Tallahassee. In October, he got the news that he earned a spot in the band.
“It was one of the best feelings I’d ever felt,” Shane said. “I didn’t think I’d make it that far.”
The ensemble includes 120 students from around the state, 15 of which are trumpet players, who are selected from hundreds of auditioning students. Keon said it’s extremely difficult to earn a seat in the band.
“To be picked is really tough,” he said. ”You have to be a really superb musician.”
Keon has been Shane’s band director at the school for the last three years. At the end of this semester, Keon will retire from teaching after 40 years. He’s been directing school bands in Pasco County since 1975 and has been at Hudson Middle School since 1990. He sings Shane’s praises, giving all the credit to Shane’s passion and practice intensity.
“He’s playing all the instruments he can get his hands on,” Keon said. “He practices like crazy and can’t get enough of it.”
Shane gives credit to Keon for pushing him to “practice, practice, practice.”
Shane’s zoned to attend Fivay High School next year but is hoping that through the School Choice Program he can attend Hudson High School where he intends to try out for the high school-level Florida All-State Band and the jazz band equivalent. This year, he also has the All-county Band performance to practice for, in addition to his school’s winter and spring concerts.
Shane, who wants to be a band director eagerly anticipates each new musical challenge
“When I get new music it gives me a challenge to do and I always accept it,” Shane said.