- Alma School District
Kristopher's Trumpet 10/21/21
By Kevin Taylor
Long before he was an ace trumpet player, holding audiences in the palm of his hand with the ease of a seasoned veteran, Kristopher Campbell was Aiden Campbell — a blue-eyed, sandy blond-haired T-ball player.
“I went by Aiden for most of my school career, until the middle of middle school when I decided I wanted to go by Kris,” Campbell said.
A long time ago, Kris Campbell replaced a baseball glove with a trumpet. But it wasn’t necessarily by choice.
Not at first.
“My mom (Kristi) wanted me to play the oboe for some reason, but I picked the trumpet because it’s the one I got the highest score on,” Campbell said. “I said, OK, I’ll see how this goes.’
“I think a big part of me liking trumpet was the people I was around, and definitely the director (Alma Middle School Band Director Jon Gooden) — he would always encourage me to do better.”
Gooden doesn’t take credit for Campbell’s emergence. But he gave Campbell his undivided attention nonetheless.
“Kris didn't stand out as a middle school band student. He was a great kid, sure, but he didn't stick out,” Gooden said. “As far as I can tell, something just clicked for him one day and he decided that he was going to be a great trumpet player. We've had some lessons in the past couple of years and the rate of improvement he's made is astounding.”
Two weeks ago, Campbell was crowned the No. 1 trumpet player for his classification, winning the Class D (5A/4A) outstanding soloist out of our entire class.
Raised by his single mom, Kristi, Kristopher credits her for steering him down the right path — and embraces being an only child.
“If my mom wasn’t the way she is, I wouldn’t be as good as I am now,” he said. “I love being an only child. I don’t have to share anything; it’s great. Being a musician and not having siblings is really easy. I’m not bothered when I’m trying to practice, other than when my mom tells me to quiet down.”
Kristopher Campbell taught himself to play the piano without taking a single lesson.
“I’ve always loved music,” he said. “I started out playing the piano a long time ago; I kind of just learned by ear. I started playing the trumpet in the sixth grade. We had a group where you could try out a bunch of instruments.”
The fact that it was highly competitive didn’t hurt, either.
“It was really competitive,” Campbell said. “He (Gooden) was always pushing me to get the first chair. So basically, it started in middle school and just kind of grew from there.”
“I'm confident in saying that he's mostly self-taught,” Gooden said. “I've heard him listening to recordings of professional players and learning by ear the solos they played. His ability to play those solos, as difficult as they are, is amazing. And it's classical music, jazz, you name it.”
By the time he was learning the lay of the land at Alma High School, Campbell had emerged as one of the school’s top trumpet players.
“When I really got good at it was my freshman or sophomore year,” Campbells said. “When I started working around people who were really good, and I got other influences from other bands at other competitions, that started to push me to want to do better.”
By the end of his sophomore year, Campbell was among the best in the business.
“I remember thinking at all-regional and all-state, ‘Yeah, I can do this … I can probably be the best I can be during my high school career,” he said.
Campbell’s senior year of high school includes two band classes, including the hip jazz band hour, his last of the day.
“I always loved music,” Campbell said. “I think what captivates me the most is my ears, basically, I can play by ear. I took music theory last year, so now I know a lot about music. Anytime I hear a song I think about how did they go there. I like the way it (music) makes me feel.
“I listen to a lot of Jazz, so I’m always feeling it.”
Not surprisingly, Campbell plans to become a music major once he picks a college - something he’s yet to do.
“I got accepted to UAFS and the U of A (University of Arkansas),” Campbell said. “Right now, I’m just deciding on which one I like the most.”
Meanwhile, despite a hectic fall, Campbell’s class load isn’t as bad as it could be.
“Music is not really time-consuming unless it’s during marching season, which is now until the beginning of November,” he said. “I’m not in a lot of academic or extracurricular classes, so it’s not too terribly time-consuming.
“Once marching season is over, it’s a breeze, especially since after marching season I have theater and I do all that stuff.”
As for his favorite song? Turns out, Campbell’s not much different from the rest of us.
Unless he’s holding a trumpet, of course.
“I don’t know if I have a favorite song,” he said. “It’s kind of just whatever I think of. I’m not the kind of person that has favorites. I’ll have a favorite song one week and then the next week I like something else.”
“I'm happy that I was able to teach Kris the basics of trumpet playing and get him started on his road,” added Gooden. “But Kris deserves all the credit for his success. He's put in a lot of hard work to get where he's gotten, and I'm just happy to sit back and listen to him play.”