Statesboro High sophomore Ben Lloyd is the only Bulloch County Schools instrumentalist who will be featured in the state’s premiere music showcase, Georgia All-State Band.
After auditioning he qualified for the third-chair position in All-State’s Ninth/Tenth Grade Band.
He’s achieved this honor three years in a row. More than 10,000 students auditioned but only 100 instrumentalists are chosen for the band in which Lloyd will play, and it features only eight French horn slots.
Born into a musical family, he plays multiple instruments, but it’s with the French horn that he’s become an heir to his family’s musical heritage. “My mom tried me on several instruments,” he said. “French horn was the last. She didn’t think I’d like it, but I did. ”
Ben is the son of Tom and Holly Lloyd.
Holly Lloyd is Bulloch County’s 2011 STAR Teacher and band director at Langston Chapel Middle School. She’s known for her gift of pairing students with just the right instrument. Her former student, Colby Parker, credits her with introducing him to the tuba in sixth grade. Parker, Bulloch County’s 2011 STAR Student and Statesboro High’s valedictorian, is now pursuing a career as an orchestral musician at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Mom, the teacher
Holly Lloyd, a flutist, confessed that though she introduced Ben to the French horn, she’s not a horn player.
“Stephanie Furry, an instructor at Georgia Southern University, has been gracious to let us periodically drop in for lessons to help polish pieces and prepare Ben for any upcoming auditions,” she said.
The most difficult brass instrument to play, one must have an ear for pitches to master French horn.
“I hear pitches well,” said Ben. “I get that ability from my mom.”
His mother shares her love of music with all three sons: Ben (15), David (14), and Robert (10). “Growing up with a band director as a mom, there were always instruments around,” she said. “The boys loved having parades around the house with them when they were young.”
Lloyd’s first formal music lessons were with the piano. Sue Thomson, an instructor with Georgia Southern University’s Music Department, was his teacher for seven years beginning in the second grade.
“She truly made a huge musical impact on his overall training,” Lloyd’s mother said.
His first piano was a hand-me-down from his maternal grandmother. It was the piano on which his uncle, Jeff Saver, learned to play. Saver is a pianist and conductor on Broadway, working on shows such as “Chicago,” and the current run of “Sister Act.”
Lloyd is an equally accomplished pianist. In sixth and seventh grade he was a Georgia Music Educators Association state winner in piano. As a result he was a featured pianist at the Association’s annual convention.
“He can do things on a piano that I can’t,” said his mother.
Picking the French horn
When Ben picked up the French horn in sixth grade, it took him only two short years to reach a level of mastery that qualified him for his first
All-State Band appearance. His band director at the time, Melvin Hamilton of William James Middle School, a 14-year music and band educator, was excited by that first milestone. “In my years at William James, he was my very first student to make All-State.”
Lloyd is now in his second year with the Statesboro Blue Devil Band. He’s made the transition from concert to marching band well.
“The first day of band camp as a freshman, he could play anything I handed him, said Joe Ferguson, Statesboro’s director of bands. “He was a shy guy, but marching band has really brought him out of his shell. He’s now quite the jokester.”
Ever seeking to challenge his musical skills, Lloyd accepted an invitation from Ben Crawford to join the all-volunteer, 20-member Statesboro First Baptist Church Orchestra. Crawford, a Langston Middle band alumnus, is a friend and fellow high school band mate. Though Lloyd’s family is not members of the church, he’s an active part of the music ministry.
The pair recently added Matt Brown, another friend and former Langston band member. The trio will perform a special horn arrangement of “Springs of Living Water,” during Sunday’s service.
“These kids are phenomenal for their ages,” said orchestra director Stacey Brown. “They are fearless and can tackle anything. They add a special voice to our orchestra.”
All-State Band is March 1-3, at the Savannah Civic Center. Eight bands, featuring students in sixth through twelfth grade, will perform a series of concerts March 3, from noon to 7 p.m. in the Center’s Theatre. Lloyd’s concert is 5-6 p.m.