As Hobbton High School senior Caitlin Joyner looks forward to graduation, she is hitting all the right notes and recalling how music has helped make her life thus far so special.
Although she can play most any instrument, Joyner is most experienced at playing the French horn and the piano.
“I started playing the piano in second grade and the french horn in seventh,” shared Joyner. “Actually, Mr. Tart (Hobbton’s band director) gave me the french horn at the end of my sixth grade year. I had originally signed up to play the trumpet, but Mr. Tart pulled me into his office one day and there was a french horn on his desk. He asked if I wanted to play it and I said, ‘Yes…what is it?’ I found out it was the french horn and I had that summer before seventh grade to learn how to play it.”
Since then, the French horn has been Joyner’s instrument of choice. She even received her own personal French horn last year for her birthday. She plays it in the school band and a similar instrument called the mellophone in Hobbton’s marching band. “I call it a marching french horn,” explained Joyner. “It is bigger but has the same sound as the french horn.”
In addition to making music with instruments, Joyner also sings and has taken voice lessons since she was in the third grade.
“The voice is such an amazing thing. You can learn to really control it and make it do all these tricks and things,” Joyner marveled. “Singing has always been fun for me. I love instruments; I think they are all special and unique, but the voice can make so many different sounds. It has a wider range of possibilities.”
A vocal moment that stands out to Joyner is one from her childhood. “You know the song from Titanic? The ‘My Heart Will Go On’ song? I have pretty much been singing that since I could talk,” said Joyner, adding that she has her aunt to thank for introducing her to the tune.
“I was riding in the car with my aunt and all I wanted to listen to was this Disney CD that had Minnie Mouse singing on it. I was obsessed with this CD and that is all I would let us listen to,” remembered Joyner. “Well my aunt had just got the Titanic CD and really wanted to hear it, so she told me that we were going to listen to another Minnie Mouse song. Since then, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ has always been the Minnie Mouse song to me.”
It is memories like these that bring a smile to Joyner’s face as she talks about her family, all of whom she will greatly miss next year when she is in college at Western Carolina University majoring in music education.
“A lot of people say Mr. Tart has brainwashed us because he went to Western Carolina, but I really chose it because of its excellent music program,” said Joyner who auditioned for five of the university’s professors just this past February and is set to join the school’s famed marching band.
During the audition, “I had to play a prepared solo and play scales (on the french horn). I also had to sight read a piece of music,” Joyner recalled. “I think the sight reading was my favorite part which is odd because more people are freaked out by it. You have to read this piece of music that you have never heard before and you don’t know how it is supposed to sound. But for me, it’s like trying to solve a puzzle and I like puzzles.”
“I also really like the horn professor at Western Carolina. When I met him, he was very nice and kind. I really enjoyed working with him,” continued Joyner, “and they really do have one of the best marching bands in the nation. I already know that their marching band is going to be in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next year in 2014, so I will be going to with them to New York before long. It will be a first for me.”
While she has so much to look forward to, Joyner often reflects on her years at Hobbton and makes the most of the time she has left there.
Acknowledging how proud she is that her school has a strong arts program, Joyner added that “overall, it is just a really good school. It is a place where you feel comfortable and where I have always felt very welcomed.”
During her high school career, she has been an active student, taking advantage of many opportunities. Last year, she participated in the Clinton/Sampson Chamber of Commerce Junior Leadership Program and the STEM Program. She also attended Governor’s School last summer at Salem College for instrumental music.
Additionally, Joyner was chosen as Miss Hobbton in 2012, a title her mother also won in 1983.
“I loved the overall experience,” said Joyner of being Miss Hobbton. “I really enjoyed going to other pageants and meeting other queens. I also liked being on stage. I love being on stage.”
It is no surprise then that Joyner is also involved in Hobbton’s drama department. Currently, she is in rehearsals for the school’s upcoming production of Happy Days, a musical based on the popular TV show, where she will bring matriarch Marion Cunningham to life on stage.
Although she keeps a very busy schedule, Joyner is making sure to cherish the time that she has with her family and friends.
“I will miss being in Hobbton’s marching band. I’ll miss my friends, and of course, I will miss my family,” reflected Joyner, adding that she will also miss being involved in her church.
“I am the founder and director the children’s choir. I am also in the adult and contemporary choirs,” said Joyner. “My church has always been there for me. I was actually there the other day playing the piano, practicing for my senior recital, and my pastor came in and just told me that I was going to do great. Everyone is really nice and supportive like that.”
Joyner shared that she will also miss Sampson County while she is away at college.
“I have always loved living here. It has that nice hometown feel and everybody you meet is usually so nice and kind,” said Joyner, noting that she has always thought Sampson to be a very pretty part of the state. “The farms have always struck me as beautiful. I love riding around and looking at them. I’m going to come back as often as I can.”
When asked if she had any advice for students who are coming into high school as she is leaving it behind, Joyner encouraged kids to be open to new people and experiences.
“Don’t be afraid to just talk to people. That’s how you get to know people and become friends. By the end of high school, you’ll have a lot of friends in and out of the classroom,” shared Joyner. “It is good to have friends that you can count on and that will support you. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out and try new things, like I did with the french horn.”
Joyner’s senior recital, where she will sing as well as play the french horn and piano, will be held at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Faison this Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. It is open to the public and a reception will follow.
Joyner is the daughter of D.J. and Marcelle Powell and Travis Joyner.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-5928137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.