By Brenda Young
Learning of another win that adds to an already accomplished high school career for Clayton Luckadoo was music to his ears.
The Liberty Hill High School junior recently won the Fine Arts Concerto Solo competition for his clarinet performance at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lakes, Mich.
The 16-year-old musician began his music career in sixth grade, and LHHS Band Director John Perrin has been with Luckadoo every step of the way.
“What happens is, during the school year, students who are taking private lessons find a piece of music and work on that. When they go to the summer music camps, they compete, and the judges determine who performed their concerto the best,” Perrin said. “It’s a long process, so this is really quite an accomplishment.”
Perrin credits Luckadoo’s success to his dedication and attention to detail.
“He was in my beginning clarinet class when he was in sixth grade, so I’ve been with him all the way through. He’s very dedicated, not just to learning the music, but he studies the history of music, the composers — he’s informed and helpful to his peers,” Perrin said. “He’s generous with his time, his talents and is just an all-around wonderful student to have in class.”
Luckadoo was born in Michigan and lived there until his family moved to Texas almost 11 years ago. According to his mother, Sheri Luckadoo, the camp was an opportunity for the Michigan natives to visit family as well as support Clayton in achieving his musical goals.
“He’s very serious about music and his clarinet playing, and he takes private lessons. Last year, his teacher recommended he go to a camp for music,” Mrs. Luckadoo said. “Last year, he auditioned for Masterworks and didn’t make it, so this year, that was his goal. It’s a very big commitment, but it’s kind of like coming back home since all of our family is up here.”
Camp began for Luckadoo last month, so he traveled with his family in mid-June to begin preparations. Out of four clarinets competing, he made it to the highest level and won the contest. He will return to Twin Lakes next month to play a solo concerto with the Masterworks Orchestra August 16.
Luckadoo said he has dabbled with other instruments, but none of them struck a chord with him the way the clarinet has.
“I just love being able to make music and make something beautiful for other people. I’m not really good at playing other instruments,” he said. “I’ve played the piano, and for a year I played cello. Theoretically, I guess I know how to play others, but I don’t play them.”
After high school, he wants to pursue a career in music, if he can “do well enough,” he said. For a student so gifted at playing the clarinet, he explains his inclination toward the instrument actually happened by mistake.
“It was really a misunderstanding,” he said. “My grandmother said she had played the clarinet, but it turns out that was only for one year, and I hadn’t realized that. But once I started, I thought it was really kind of fun and grew to love it even more.”
His recent success at Blue Lake was definitely not his first. He has been a state-level member of the All Texas Small School Band (ATSSB) two years in a row, and won a Division 1 rating for his solo performance last year.
“He was fourth chair this year in 1A, 2A and 3A schools across the state, so he’s the fourth best clarinet player in the state,” said Perrin. “Also, his academics are excellent, so he’s able to participate when it comes time, which is a big deal in band as well. You can be the best musician in the world, but if you’re not passing, you don’t get to play.”
Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is certain—his music will play on in the years ahead.
“Music provides happiness for me—it is sanity,” Luckadoo said. “It’s hard to explain how great it is when you’re playing music; not just playing music, but making music and doing something so beautiful.”