Two years ago, Anthony Barrington was a typical junior at Putnam City North High School. He’d been playing the trumpet since age 8, and while he enjoyed being a member of his high school band and marching band, he’d never considered turning his part-time passion into a full-time career. When Anthony started contemplating his future beyond high school, he realized he wanted his love of music to lead his life. Exchanging his traditional school for an online school that would accommodate practicing trumpet for at least five hours a day, Anthony landed auditions at schools in Atlanta, Houston, California and his dream school of Juilliard in New York City. Dream turned reality, Anthony, now 19, officially calls himself a Juilliard student.
When did you know you wanted to pursue playing the trumpet professionally?
I didn’t really ever have any ambition to play or practice the trumpet until two years ago. I was playing in different ensembles and groups and I just fell in love with playing and making music. I thought I’d try to make it to a university or college but I thought Juilliard was a stretch.
How difficult was it to balance practicing with school?
I had a really enjoyable experience at Putnam City North. I loved being part of the band and marching band program. During my junior year, I was trying to practice more and more. I had marching band before and after school but I didn’t have any time for myself to work on the craft that I really wanted to do. I made a decision last summer to attend Oklahoma Connections Academy [an online school] my senior year. I could make time to practice and go different places to audition, which I really enjoyed.
So your senior year looked a lot different than a traditional student?
I had the freedom to wake up and start practicing early in the morning. I like to start my day working on what I want to do and planning my day and year out. The least amount of practice time every day was four hours, and after all that was said and done, I could focus on my school work. I had that focused practice time and mental preparation earlier in the year, knowing I had to prepare to go to New York City and California and all the places I auditioned. It was great for me when I traveled because I could do my schooling on the road and I didn’t have to worry about missing a few days of school or getting caught up. It also allowed me to go to trumpet competitions throughout the year. I got to work on what I wanted to, better myself and still receive my high school diploma.
How does your passion for music inspire you to give back to others?
My Dad works with the Salvation Army and every summer they hold a music camp in Tahlequah. The camp is designed for underprivileged kids to learn music and how to be leaders in society. We have a lot of kids who come who are homeless and from broken families. They learn to have a passion for making music and helping others. I’ve been able to be an instructor to these kids and I’ve really loved it.
What was your Juilliard audition like?
It was a little crazy. There are people who’ve come from all over the world to try to make it. The day of auditions I was in line and the kid in front of me was from Hong Kong. They have you line up outside the room, and you can hear everybody who goes in before you. I went in and the trumpet instructors are in there, and they did a weird thing where they made me face toward the window and the New York City skyline. The city drew me in, and I knew that being there was right for me.
How did you feel when you found out you’d been accepted to Juilliard?
I was sort of amazed. I didn’t really plan on making Juilliard but just wanted the experience of going to New York City and auditioning. Honestly, I had planned on staying in Oklahoma City and studying here. I was actually at a national trumpet competition in Colorado and my Dad and I were at a taco joint. I checked my email and saw that I’d been accepted. We both cried. Being able to study at Juilliard with really legendary teachers is a dream come true. These are musicians that I’ve looked up to and I’ll get to meet them and hopefully work with them. I’m just really happy to have this opportunity. I believe this is a gift from God and I have a lot of people to be thankful for to get to do this.
Who has inspired you most along your journey?
My family has always been there for me and always has my best interests at heart. My Dad went with me to all my auditions and has supported me my whole life, musically and as a father. I would not be the musician or person today without Michael Anderson, my trumpet teacher at Oklahoma City University. He’s molded me to be a different person and I wouldn’t have gotten to Juilliard without him.
What’s after Juilliard for you?
I have always dreamed of playing in a big orchestra, like the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the Los Angeles Philharmonic. As a student, I can take these big auditions for major orchestras just to experience them. If I win something, of course I’d take it, but if I don’t, I can stay and keep studying to get additional degrees.
What one word best describes you?