McFarland named 2023 National Band Student of the Year

Pattonville High School senior trumpetist Max McFarland was named the 2023 High School Band Directors National Association (HSBDNA) National Band Student of the Year. 

McFarland is the third Pattonville High School student to win a HSBDNA award since 2020. Senior clarinetist Sydney Suvansri was named the 2022 National Band Student of the Year (an award she was a finalist for again this year) and 2020 graduate and percussionist Thomas McFarland was named the 2020 National Marching Band Student of the Year. 

Max McFarland is a decorated musician. He has received all-state band honors during his sophomore, junior and senior year and has won several medals at the MSHSAA State Music Festival. He is starting to create some original music and is also a member of world-famous drumming legend Dave Weckl’s STL Big Band Contingent. In middle school, he was the first person in Holman Middle School’s history to earn jazz and concert band all-suburban honors in both 7h and 8th grade.

The COVID-19 pandemic happened at the end of his freshman year and it challenged him to work harder. 

“A lot of people lost motivation and kind of quit a bunch of things. People stopped doing their sports and stopped playing in band,” he said. “I think that was the turning point for me. It was right around the time I finally picked up the instrument and I would play it for hours on end every day. I went from not getting any recognition my freshman year to being ranked No. 2 in the state my sophomore year.”

He owns and plays a prototype trumpet created by the Adams Musical Instruments company. It is one of just three instruments of its kind in the world.

“It has this new invention inside of it,” he said. “The valves have holes and that’s where the air goes through and that’s what dictates what note you play,”

If the valve is twisted, it lengthens so the air pressure is a lot harder because there’s less room for the air to go through.

“It makes me sound a little bit more like a jazz lead player, you know, it’s really bright and it stabs your ears and it hurts sometimes when they play so loud. That's the kind of sound that I get from that,” he said. “And if I open it right back up, it opens the airway and I get a nice warm, smooth tone.”

McFarland is also a decorated student-athlete. He is a dual sport varsity athlete and was voted to be the 2022 Pattonville homecoming king. 

“Our soccer team was conference champions this year and I was selected for second team all-conference as a defender and academic all-conference this year,” he said. “In baseball, we had a pretty good season and I just found out that I made the all-state academic team.”

He recently graduated with a 4.167 weighted GPA and plans to earn a bachelor’s degree in jazz performance while attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“While I am attending SIUE, I am going to be working in studios, I will be working as an audio engineer and performing throughout the St. Louis area as a freelance musician,” he said. “Music is looking really good for our generation. I am really excited to carry it over.” 

Pattonville High School’s band teachers are Denny McFarland, Anna White and Laura Livesay.

Pattonville School District
Upcoming Events