April 30, 2002 11:00 pm
Sam Pettit ().
Sam Pettit ().

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

La Grande High School musician Sam Pettit seeks out constructive criticism.

This is one reason why he was a critical success last weekend at the OSAA-U.S. Bank Solo Music State Championships in Ashland.

Pettit, a junior, placed second in the trumpet competition.

Students compete against musicians from all sizes of schools at the championships.

Pettit's high placing is a credit to his exceptional work ethic, said LHS band teacher Jim Howell. He noted that Pettit attends every master music class possible and always asks for critiques.

"Sam has a personality which allows him to accept feedback. He goes out of his way to collect opinions,'' Howell said.

He noted that when the Oregon Symphony came to La Grande in April, Pettit attended the instruction the orchestra offered through the Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council. Howell said Pettit immediately began applying what he learned.

"He does a good job of applying the ideas of master musicians,'' Howell said.

This is the third straight year Pettit has competed at the state solo championships.

"Knowing people there made it more fun. I saw a lot of friends I had not seen for a long time,'' Pettit said.

The junior is also a member of LHS's band and choir which both won state Class 3A titles last year.

Earlier this year Pettit placed third in the trumpet solo competition at the prestigious Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho.

Pettit was one of four LHS students who competed at the state solo championships. The others were senior Beth Youngblood (violin); junior Hilary McAlister (trombone) and her brother, freshman Stuart McAlister (French horn). Their results are not known since only students placing in the top three were announced. The complete results will be released later.

This was Youngblood's fourth appearance at state.

"I'm pleased with how they all did. They all played with confidence and deserve a lot of credit. They have worked incredibly hard,'' said Howell.

He attributes the students' strong performances to the fact that they focus on their music and not the competition.

"If you are worried about the competition, a part of your mind is not on the music,'' Howell


Howell said the students focused well because they have experience giving solo performances before audiences.

"You can practice your instrument in privacy but you can't practice performing unless it is in front of people,'' Howell


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