Kaitlyn Resler practices her French horn at home as she readies for her next performance. She'll perform on National Public Radio Sunday, Feb. 3, 5 p.m.
CLEARWATER – Is it work or is it fun? Do the countless hours spent practicing the French horn make Kaitlyn Resler want to try something else? Not a chance. The 17-year-old Clearwater Beach native says playing classical music on her instrument is all she has ever really wanted to do, and it is as much fun as it is work.
Resler will be performing on National Public Radio on Sunday, Feb. 3, the result of securing a place through a national audition process. To get there, however, has been a long road that began when she was a little girl.
“I was just a little kid when I began playing music,” she said. “It was never really work for me; it was a fun thing to do. I played a little sports, I did some running, but music was where my heart was.”
Resler’s father, Robb, says it was obvious from a young age that Kaitlyn had special talent.
“My wife and I are both musicians,” he said. “She started playing in the fourth grade, and right away we enrolled her in lessons so she wouldn’t pick up any bad habits. She played right through middle school. It was evident that she caught on fast with an unusual ability. So we thought that she had some very unique talents.”
Resler said his daughter loved music so much that she lobbied to be able to go away for summer music experiences.
“She wanted to go away for five or six weeks, the whole summer,” he said. “We finally said yeah, let’s give this a shot. So she went to Tennessee and she came back improved. She had made quantum leaps. That summer, we went up to hear her two or three times, she was playing with college students. She had a passion that she wanted to be a symphonic player. We never had to tell her to go practice.”
Last year, Kaitlyn auditioned to be a substitute player with the Florida orchestra. She got on the sub-list and has been called three times to fill in – something she loves to do.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “They are a group with such dedication and talent; they are so friendly and so amazing.”
She says she will absolutely so back to play with the Florida Orchestra if she is called again, and that seems likely.
Her current teacher, Carolyn Wahl, a longtime member of the orchestra, has nothing but praise for the teenager.
“She is an excellent student and musician, and she has great potential in this field,” she said. “I’m not at all worried about her becoming a professional musician.”
The life of an aspiring classical musician is a life of constant learning. For the past two summers, Resler has attended the Kinhaven Music School in Weston, Vt. They are summers packed full of rehearsals and practices as the students prepare to play a series of concerts with the local symphony orchestra.
Resler is a full-time student at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibb’s High School in St. Petersburg. She is a senior and she has already begun to apply to notable music schools around the country to further her musical education. The money she makes from those stints with the Florida Orchestra helps pay for the auditions she must perform to get into those schools.
In the next six weeks, she has lined up auditions at schools right across the country. She will be auditioning for the Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia, Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, the Bienen School of Music in Chicago and the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles. Her preference she says would be Curtis in Philadelphia.
“It is a much smaller environment and I like Philadelphia,” she said. “I had a lesson with the horn instructor there and she’s great. It is much harder to get into but I am confident, I’m practicing like crazy to be extremely prepared, I’m doing mock auditions, I’m going to make sure I’m prepared and ready.”
Wahl, her instructor, has no doubt Kaitlyn will make it.
“She should have no trouble getting into any school,” she said. “I expect her to be accepted to everywhere she applies.”
Her performance on NPR on Feb. 3, at 5 p.m., could help get her the attention she needs to move on with her career.
As for that question of work or play, Kaitlyn says it is a little bit of both.
“It is both fun and work, it is like you are working, and always practicing but I enjoy doing it. I guess the best way to say it is I love my work.”