Silsbee senior clarinet player becomes first band member selected for state twice

Photo: Silsbee ISD

Senior Paula Boothman is not only a clarinet aficionado, the talented Silsbee High School band member has set the stage to become one of the most talented band members in Silsbee High School history, Silsbee ISD Communications Director Daniel Elizondo said in a release.

In retrospect, Paula has done what no other Silsbee High School student has done by becoming the first Silsbee band member to qualify two consecutive times to the ATSSB All-State Band. She is the daughter of Dale and Jane Boothman.

It all started in the third grade when Paula began playing piano, which became a catalyst to her music career in becoming a master musician in high school. Her piano lessons with well-known Silsbee pianist Jay Collier paved the way for her to learn music and its structure, which in turn, helped to propel her as a woodwind master.

Paula’s mother, Jan, took piano lessons here in Silsbee with Collier when she was younger. It was her experiences then that allowed his trust in helping Paula become the musician she is today.

“He is a music genius,” Paula said. “He could have become a composer.”

Paula chose the clarinet because it was a family tradition. Her mom played clarinet while in high school and later, her older sister, Mary Allison, also played.

In fact, Paula used her mom’s original clarinet in the sixth grade. Today, that clarinet has become what she calls the “outdoor clarinet”, used at football games, or marching parades. Eventually, Paula began using her sisters clarinet for indoor concert use.

It all started when Paula was in second grade. She recalls drawing music notes on paper, which was all she could do to enjoy music since Collier wouldn’t take any students until they reached third grade.

From then on, the sounds of music flowed through Paula’s life through her older sister, which eventually gave her the motivation to follow in her sibling’s footsteps.

Mary Allison became a prodigy clarinet musician as well, serving as first chair for Silsbee in six of the seven years she participated in band.

Paula looked up to her older sister and dreamed of fulfilling goals as a clarinet player as well. It was in fifth grade when Paula vowed that she would make state for Mary Allison after she fell shy of qualifying for state her senior year.

Paula began taking private clarinet lessons in sixth grade, and later found the one teacher that helped boost her music career to a new level when she became a sophomore. Andrew Kier helped polish her skills, and today, she continues to take lessons from him.

Paula’s skill level quickly escalated to a high level through middle school, and she was ready for a new challenge in high school when she entered her freshman year.

“I had so much fun in middle school, but after sixth grade, it started becoming easy for me,” she said. “I knew that my freshman year would be different jumping to a new skill level, and I would also be competing with seniors that were good.”

It didn’t phase Paula as she took the bull by the horns and stayed focused to earn a first chair seat her freshman year in the high school band. She may have had a timid personality, but it was the beginning of her path towards state excellence as she comfortably strolled through tryouts to take first chair.

“I still get really nervous, but it gets easier to control it the more you practice, and the more auditions you have,” she said.

ATSSB All-State Band will conduct its clinic on Feb. 14-16 in San Antonio and conclude with a performance from the band at the Lila Cockrell Theater on Saturday, Feb. 17.

She is one of 35 clarinet players that made the All-State band, which includes 280 of the best musicians in the state of Texas from classes 1A-4A.

“She is a testimony to the leadership that our students are exhibiting,” Band Director Todd Patterson said.

Paula also competed in the TEMA auditions, which encompasses students from bigger school districts. Earlier this school year, Paula earned sixth chair in the TEMA region competition, a feat that has made her proud.

“Last year I made first chair at ATSSB Region, which was great,” she said. “But this year, I made sixth chair at TEMA Region and I was so much more proud of that, because it is so much more difficult with so many good clarinet players.”

Paula was the first all-state band member her junior year for the first time in over a decade for Silsbee. Ironically, Paula’s mom accomplished a similar feat her high school junior and senior years, and made All-State Choir consecutively in 1977 and 1978, a first for Silsbee at that time.

“Right now, music major is not in the plan, but I would really like to be in a wind ensemble in college,” Paula said. “It makes me sad to let go of how involved I am in music.”

Paula plans to major in physics at the University of Texas in Austin, however she said that music will always be in the back pocket if plans go astray for any reason.

“Last year, I wanted to make state because of the title, and this year I wanted to go back to San Antonio because of the music they play,” she said. “You are surrounded by people that care as much as you do, and it is all at a high level. It’s an amazing experience.”

It is no doubt that Paula stood by her words to her sister that day when she was in fifth grade. Now she can look back at those dreams, and see the path it took as her name becomes etched in the music hall of Silsbee High School.

- Silsbee ISD