MERCED -- Kary Vance has always had a love for music.
Her zeal for performing will be showcased later this month as she plays with the All-State Honor Band in Fresno.
The 17-year-old senior at Golden Valley High School will play the French horn in the honor band, which is part of the California Band Directors Association. The concert will be 8 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Fresno Convention Center's Saroyan Theatre.
"She's probably the most self-motivated student I've ever had," said Robert Hillhouse, her band instructor for three years at Merced High School. "I couldn't be happier about her. She's a go-getter from the start."
Kary said she has always had great passion for music and wants to spread that enthusiasm to other young people. She intends to enroll at either the University of the Pacific in Stockton or UCLA, majoring in music education, with her ultimate career goal to be a high school band teacher.
Rich Lewis, retired band director from Cruickshank Middle School, said Kary is a "really wonderful person" who will be a terrific teacher.
"I think very highly of her," Lewis said. "She has a great talent and is a good all-around musician. I am just beaming when I hear her play."
Four of Lewis' students in 26 years of teaching at Cruickshank and Hoover middle schools have gone on to be band directors, including Golden Valley's Mike Vasquez and Buhach Colony's Chad Humpal.
Kary, who has lived in Merced for 11 years, started in percussion in fifth grade at Peterson Elementary School, then went to the flute in sixth grade at Cruickshank. She added mallets and trumpet in seventh grade and started the French horn in eighth grade. She is the daughter of Scott and Susie Vance of Merced.
Kary said she noticed Lewis loved music and that fervor grew in her, too.
She played piano as a child. She has been a member of Golden Valley's Cardinal Regime band for four months and also plays the jazz trumpet in the A Jazz Band, as well as the Merced Union High School District Orchestra.
She also plays in the orchestra at Central Presbyterian Church.
Kary auditioned for the honor band in late November, sending in a tape that impressed the judges. She is the only student musician from this area in the prestigious honor band.
Vasquez said Kary is an exemplary student and an excellent musician. He said she has grown in her ability and is a great leader.
"Her personal integrity stands out," Vasquez said. "She would be an excellent teacher some day."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.