Trombone player’s ‘mature sound’ inspires band, friends

Junior Jack Ballard helps detail his musical journey, acceptance to prestigious summer program


Aaron Haynes

Holding the trombone, junior Jack Ballard walks into one of the practice rooms. Ballard has been in the Prosper Mighty Eagle Band since his freshman year. Ballard will perform in an upcoming competition in the beginning of November.

The song “Land of 1,000 Dances” echoes throughout the hallway leading to classroom No. 1430. The melody fills every corner of the large room. Standing among 30 students in the band hall during second period, junior Jack Ballard plays. 

Ballard has been playing the bass trombone since sixth grade, after joining the Reynolds Middle School Band. Now, as part of the Prosper High Band, he claims a stand-out position among his peers.

“Ever since I started seeing progress in my playing, I knew playing was a big passion of mine,” Ballard said. “Now though, I really just love getting to forget about all of life’s troubles and make music with the people I love.” 

While Ballard wasn’t interested at first in making music with the band, he said that he is now grateful for such an opportunity. 

“The best part about being in band is definitely getting to hang out with so many cool people,” Ballard said, “while also being able to make lots of great music with like-minded individuals.”

PHS band director Brandon Holt said that he was “extremely impressed” when he first met Ballard. 

“I can remember hearing him playing bass trombone in the jazz band, and being blown away with the sound he was creating,” Holt said. “Even as a younger musician, he had a very mature sound, and I was very excited to be able to work with him at PHS.”

After working with Ballard for more than three years, Holt said Ballard has grown tremendously as a musician. 

“Jack is a very focused and determined musician that is passionate about playing the trombone,” Holt said. “He is super consistent, and his playing from year to year shows it.”

This past summer, Ballard was accepted into one of the most prestigious summer music programs in the country: Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. With an extremely lengthy application process and low acceptance rates, Ballard said the journey was not easy. 

“You send in videos to the panel, where professors at Boston University decide whether or not you are fit for the camp,” Ballard said. “Thousands of people all over the world send in auditions, so the panel takes a long time to decide (who is accepted).”

Alumni from this program often go on to join renowned bands and symphony orchestras. This opportunity has also allowed Ballard to network with other like-minded musicians. The program runs from June through August. 

Junior Jack Ballard (middle back) stands with other members of the Tanglewood Institute Summer Program holding his trombone. The program had thousands of applicants from around the world. Only the top were selected, Ballard being among them. “(Ballard) is always available to help out when needed and is constantly working on his musicianship,” Band Director Brandon Holt said. “He is not only heavily involved in the Prosper Mighty Eagle Band as a student leader, but is an active musician in various prestigious youth orchestras in the metroplex.” (Jack Ballard)

Beyond the music, Holt said Ballard has proven to be not only a great musician but a great person, as well.   

“He is always available to help out when needed and is constantly working on his musicianship,” Holt said. “He is not only heavily involved in the Prosper Mighty Eagle Band as a student leader, but is an active musician in various prestigious youth orchestras in the metroplex.”

Sophomore and trombone player Sam Harden emphasized Ballard’s impact on him and the rest of the band as well. 

“I’ve known Jack for three years, and knew from (the beginning) that he was an excellent musician,” Harden said. “Jack has gone from a good to a great musician over the years that I’ve known him.”

Harden said that Ballard has made him and many other students feel welcome in the band, and he has guided them along the way. 

 “One of Jack’s best qualities is his sense of humor,” Harden said, “which makes him a really fun person to spend time with. Jack has changed the culture of the band for the better, and is a leader in the trombone section and the band in general.”

Junior Tyler Leatherman has known Ballard for four years now and described the impact that Ballard has had on Leatherman’s musical career. 

“I’ve known Jack since my eighth-grade year when I was at Rogers,” Leatherman said. “He was at Reynolds, and we were both at Jazz All-Region. When I first met him, I was a little intimidated because he was really good at his instrument, and he was  direct competition.”

Leatherman said this competition eventually led to a friendship between the both of them after they joined the PHS band together.

“One of Jack’s qualities that makes him both a great musician and a friend is his ability to understand,” Leatherman said. “Not only can he understand music well, but he understands his friends, their emotions, and what they need.”

Leatherman also said that Ballard’s skills had advanced since he first meet him. 

“Jack has always been a good musician. But, playing with him for all these years, it’s impressive to see how much he has grown,” Leatherman said. “Not only has his ability to play increased, but his understanding of music has increased to a very high level compared to most at Prosper High School.”

This talent is also what has led to Ballard being a role model for many younger players. 

“Jack has served as an inspiration for many and a role model for others, as he is an incredible musician and person,” Leatherman said. “Many people look up to him and strive to be as good as he is.”

Ballard said he intends to major in music performance and really wants to “hone in his talent” by working with the “best-of-the-best” musicians.

“Jack has already set himself up to be a fantastic musician or really anything else he wants to be,” Holt said. “The thing that I love about being a musician is that it teaches discipline and dedication. Those concepts can carry over into really any other field.”

Ballard said he hopes to continue his current path and aims to influence others in a positive way.

“I hope to inspire people about finding that one thing that they truly enjoy,” Ballard said, “whether that be music or anything.”