Reese McCracken Expresses Passion through Musical Ability


Walking down Main Street USA in Orlando Florida at Walt Disney World Reese McCracken actualized a personal dream and passion. The walkway parted as the sound of the band blasted through the park, the crowd roaring, little kids looking up with smiles from ear to ear. This feeling was not attained last year, as the 2020 Greater Latrobe Marching Band Trip was put on hold due to Covid-19 last March. 

As a Disney fanatic, Reese would have loved to have this opportunity and experience. “Disney is one of my passions, I have always been very interested in it and everything that surrounds it,¨ Reese expressed. When Reese goes to Disney, he is not looking as interested in the characters or cool attractions as much as the music, instrumentals, and sounds happening as you walk through the park that makes Disney have that magical component. 

Reese´s journey with music began with saxophone lessons in fourth grade, ¨It is crazy to me, when I first started a band, I actually hated it. It took me years to realize hey I’m pretty good at this- I should take it more seriously,” Reese explained. 

This harmonious connection happened after his move from CDT to Greater Latrobe in seventh grade. During his first year in the public school,  Reese still was not fully in love with the idea of a band. In eighth grade, his passion for playing the saxophone and music began to unfold.  “I realized I wasn’t as behind as I thought. Something clicked, and I thought If I continued to work really hard, I could be really good at what I’m doing,” Reese said. 

The following year as Reese transitioned from junior high to high school he decided to audition for wind ensemble to play amongst older and talented musicians. To Reese, it was very nerve-wracking to be playing with older, more experienced individuals who have auditioned before. Reese was the only freshman to be a part of the wind ensemble in 2017. “I was playing music with extreme difficulty, but it pushed me to work harder, so I wasn’t standing out in a negative way amongst a group that was very talented,” said Reese. He used this point as a stepping stone to continue to further his musical talent with the saxophone. 

Mr. Sheridan, GLSH band director, witnessed that same growth spurt. “Reese did not arrive at high school with musical talent that he could use to “coast through.” When he arrived as a 9th-grade student, he demonstrated competent skills, immense potential, and a drive to do more and be better,” said Mr.Sheridan. 

In the past two years, Reese has risen as a leader in his band career. He has learned to balance social life, school, working a part-time job at Dunkin Donuts, while continuing to perfect his musical ability. 

Covid had affected almost every factor to this group of musicians. It changed the way they would play while wearing masks, practicing in large groups, losing consistency, attendance to practices as well as people losing interest overall. “People had lost their drive, and had the mindset of ‘well what’s the point’. I wanted to inspire everyone and give my peers the motivation to continue pushing through and use this as a stepping stone to improve next year,” Reese exclaimed.  

“As a leader in the wind ensemble, and one of the drum majors in the marching band, Reese approaches leadership with passion and humility. He arrives early, stays late, and he wants his peers to succeed. Most notably, Reese approaches leadership as an opportunity for service. I am excited to see Reese continue to succeed throughout his high school career and after graduation. I hope his story inspires other students to work hard and contribute to something bigger than themself,“ Sheridan said. 

Working extremely hard over the past two years, Reese earned an opportunity to participate in the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association All-State Festival. Even with a virtual audition process, Reese placed among the top students in the region. “Typically this festival is in-person, and the best high school musicians from the entire state come together for three days of rehearsal with some of the best conductors in the country. While this year’s festival will be virtual, and the ensemble will create a recording of one piece in lieu of a typical full concert program,” Sheridan explained. This was a great honor for Reese to gain this opportunity as a junior in high school.

After high school, Reese hopes to use his musical talents and abilities to teach others like him by studying music education at Duquesne University. Next year Reese plans to continue to be a leader as well as continue to bring unity as a band as a senior. He hopes to continue to make an impact through music to his peers, class, as well as the Greater Latrobe community.