Fine Arts Student of the Week: Band community resonates with senior

This week's Fine Arts Student of the Week is Brainerd High School senior Abigail Benson.

Student poses with clarinet and saxophone
This week's Fine Arts Student of the Week is Abigail Benson, who plays saxophone and clarinet.
Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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Abigail Benson

Grade: Senior

Age: 18

Art focus: Woodwind performance (clarinet, saxophone, and flute).

Adviser nomination: “Abi is an outstanding leader and woodwind player in the BHS band program. She is an all-state clarinetist, principal clarinetist in the Wind Symphony, lead tenor saxophone in Jazz Ensemble I as well as the band president. Abi's dedication and enthusiasm for her music is contagious to the members of the band program...and her directors,” adviser Chris Fogderud said.


Memorable fine arts achievement: All-state band and orchestra my junior and senior year.

What is the first instrument you learned to play? Clarinet, or recorder if you count my fourth grade music class.

What do you like most about the clarinet and saxophone? I love being able to speak through something that’s not my voice. The freedom to say what I need to without really having to say it. I also love connecting with new people, which my instruments have allowed me to do.

What is your leadership style as band president? I think my style of leadership is trying to understand all levels of musicality, and I’ve been trying to make connections with every band so we can feel more like a music community. I’m a student aid in the ninth grade band and it’s been so much fun to work with the freshman.

Favorite piece you’ve performed: I’ve performed so many that it’s hard to pick. “Blue Shades” by Frank Ticheli, “Arabesque” by Samuel Hazo and “An American Elegy” also by Frank Ticheli still make me emotional, but I can’t decide between them. My favorite jazz song was “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” since it reminds me of a great year for me in jazz band (plus I got to play jazz clarinet).

What do you enjoy most about being in band? I love how small of a world it is. I’ve met so many people who know my friends, even when they’re a whole state away. It connects us through the common interest of making music, and it’s pretty special.

Other extracurricular activities: I am the vice president of Student Council, vice president of Key Club, president of Spanish Club, have tutored in Spanish, and I am also a barista so I love coffee.

After high school plans: I’m going to be attending Concordia College in Moorhead for either music performance or music education, and very likely will minor in Spanish.


Favorite movie: “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

More on fine arts
Brainerd High School junior Lark Dodge focuses on pottery and is this week's Fine Arts Students of Week.
Brainerd High School junior Ava Branstner is this week's Fine Arts Student of the Week.
"Follow Your Yellow Brick Road" was the theme of this year's Fine Arts and Activities Celebration Monday, April 25, at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts.

Favorite TV show: “Gilmore Girls.”

Favorite book: Inheritance Cycle series by Christopher Paolini.

Favorite song: “We Fell In Love in October” by Girl in Red has been stuck in my head lately, but “American Elegy” by Frank Ticheli is a band song that has my heart.

Favorite musical artist: Taylor Swift.

Favorite subject: Besides band of course, I really love science. I’m currently taking AP chemistry, and Ms.Ingram makes the class fascinating.

Favorite food: Costco pizza is where it’s at.

Hobbies: I know it’s really cliche, but I really love learning new instruments. I learn so much about myself by doing it. I also love reading, but I feel like my reading list has grown more than the books I have read. My biggest hobby, however, is homework — even if it’s not such a fun one.


Parent: Kandace Benson.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at

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