Seniors David Knapp and Graham Koppi share the title of co-section leaders of the saxophone section. Their talents have created a unique relationship. Photo Editor Spencer Isberg| Staff Writer Ethan Ohlrich

At the end of last year, Graham Koppi and David Knapp were anxious. The best friends both wanted the position of saxophone section leader. This position had teased them as they knew they were both very capable, but only one of them could get it. A few days later, band director Bill Monroe confronted them separately, asking who should be section leader. They both replied with the same answer:

“I think we should both be section leaders.” It was settled. Monroe decided that Koppi and Knapp, now seniors, would share the title of co-section leader of the saxophone section because of their skill and ability to work well together, and their genuine passion for the instrument. They both said that they fell in love with the instrument because of its unique sound and the different ways it can be adapted for modern and classical music.

“I like how it sounds and how you can express yourself in so many ways on it, something that you can’t do on other instruments,” Knapp said. “It’s a versatile instrument you can use across so many different genres.”

Koppi started off his freshman year in Blue Band, the lowest level band during concert season. At his chairing test, which would determine the band he is in and the chair he receives, he earned second chair. He said that although it was very good for a freshman, he felt discouraged. All of his friends were in Gold Band and Symphonic Band, but he wasn’t to that level yet.

“I felt a little bad about my abilities,” Koppi said. “Because I wasn’t good at school stuff, I thought I wasn’t good at music. I started practicing more everyday; I treated it more like homework and put aside time to practice, and slowly I started to enjoy it more. I started playing more.”

As Koppi’s skill improved, so did Knapp’s, who started in Gold Band. Even though the two were in different bands their freshman year, they still found ways to practice and be around each other. The two sat together at lunch and practiced together after school, and have sat next to each other in band since seventh grade.

Junior year, when Koppi was first chair and Knapp was second chair in Symphonic Band, they were together practically all of the time. When they were named co-section leaders, they spent the majority of their summer together writing their section tune and preparing the music at their summer leadership camp, which was for their section the upcoming year. They also set up the saxophone section Facebook page, designed their t-shirts, helped teach freshman how to march at band camp, and helped lead the saxophones when their section teacher wasn’t there.

“I would lead the main sectional and Graham would go around to individual people and help them because I was conducting,” Knapp said. “I was like, this is how it sounds and Graham would play it for everyone.”

Koppi and Knapp have a dynamic that fuels their interest in the saxophone and a friendly competition between the two. Up until junior year, any chance they could get they would compete against each other, starting with their chairing test. They would challenge each other’s chair at every chance they could get. This all ended junior year when their skill level was so close to each other, they helped each other improve.

“When one improves, the other just gets straight up to the other’s level,” Monroe said.

“They were both outstanding. It’s kind of like they were symbiotic”. Both Knapp and Koppi said they want to leave a legacy of being extremely talented saxophone players, but they also want future musicians to know if you don’t start in Symphonic Band, you can still be a section leader. They hope to transfer their level of skill to their other classmates, in hopes that the saxophone section stays one of the strongest sections in the band. They hope one day the freshmen now can be as good or even better than them when they are seniors. They also hope to prove that co-section leading is not a bad thing, and that two completely different people can work together very well.

“Even though David and I are completely different people, we can work really well together and have become really close friends ever since,” Koppi said. “I think band has that impact on people. I hope we can show people that you don’t always have to see eyeto-eye to work together. We can settle on our differences and do what is best.“