Let the trumpets sound

Knippa chooses conservatory experience over traditional college


Karis Thomas

Coppell High School senior Grant Knippa practices trumpet in the CHS band hall practice rooms during sixth period. Knippa plans to attend New England Conservatory of Music in Boston to pursue a career in classical music.

Amelia Vanyo, Editor-in-Chief

For Coppell High School senior Grant Knippa, music is no longer a hobby. It is his future.


Knippa was not always musically inclined. He did not really dive into music until middle school. In fifth grade, Knippa decided to pick up an instrument- specifically one with a cool case.


“I was not a very musical kid, I liked the recorder in elementary but I don’t know if that counts,” Knippa said. “I was deciding between trumpet and saxophone because I wanted an instrument that went in a case because I thought that was really cool, so I just happened to pick trumpet.”


But Knippa’s affinity for music was not unexpected.


“My husband is a percussion person, he’s all about music,” Kinppa’s mother Denise Knippa said. “Our older son Brady is a music major at the University of Texas in percusion.”


Now, Knippa practices three hours a day (not including the hour and 40 minutes in school  band) and plans to attend the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston to pursue trumpeting long term.


“I had been considering [pursuing trumpet in college] all throughout high school, but the moment I knew was junior year when I went to All-State, which was just three or four days playing really difficult music with some of the best classical musicians in Texas, and I just knew; that was what I wanted to do,” Knippa said.


Mrs. Knippa believes that Knippa had natural talent as well as a passion and drive for music that helped him succeed.


“He had the desire first and foremost,” Mrs. Knippa said. “I think he had a natural ability for sure, and I think he just did a lot of hard work in addition to that.”


Knippa has had the opportunity to participate in a variety of unique music programs, including school bands such as marching band and concert band,  All-State Band, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra and a Interlochen – a seven week summer camp in Interlochen, Mich.


“In high school there are a lot of great musicians, but all of the kids in GDYO are planning on doing music in college, so it’s like a bunch of mes all doing my thing,” Knippa said. “One of the unique things about interlochen was that it is kind of in the middle of a forest. You’re surrounded by two lakes, there are trees everywhere, and especially if you do the summer camp you sleep in cabins that are out in the woods.”


Conservatories are unique from traditional universities in that students study their craft exclusively. This offers students the ability to spend every class growing as a musician.


“School is good and all that but I’m always telling my friends that it would be really cool if all of my classes instead of calculus and English and all that were trumpet and trumpet and music, and that’s exactly what going to school at a conservatory would be like,” Knippa said.


For musicians, the audition process is an extremely rigorous one. Many schools require pre-screening recordings before the student is invited to audition, and almost all schools require an in person audition.

Many of Knippa’s friends come from band, and many of the student musicians he meets at camps and competitions auditioned at the same schools as him.


“Being in band has given me most of my friends,” Knippa said. “You constantly run into the same people over and over again, so a lot of the kids that I’ve seen in these auditions are people I already knew from doing All-State or going to Interlochen.”


At NEC, Knippa will have the opportunity to regularly watch the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


“I’ll get expert experience and get to see what it is that these people do, and not just as a one time thing, but like every week for free. I think that’s invaluable,” Knippa said. “My teacher at [New England Conservatory of Music] this next year, he is a trumpet player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which is regarded as one of the best orchestras in the country, so to have that instruction from the person who has the job I am striving for is really cool.”


For the last three years Knippa has been studying trumpet under Dr. Jared Hunt, with whom he has worked on embouchure and musicality.


“Musicality is something that a lot of musicians don’t pick up on until they’re halfway through their undergrad, but Grant really grew in his musicality [the three years I have been teaching him],” Hunt said.


Trumpet can be a demanding instrument, but Knippa has learned to love the instrument through all the requirements.


“The hardest part is just that I do so much of it, which is a good problem to have,” Knippa said “It’s also really physically taxing, and especially this summer when I was in interlochen it was just a lot of playing all the time, which is really fun, I love doing it, but sometimes it just wears you out physically. There’s so many things I like about trumpet playing, the best part would have to be not just playing the music but creating an experience. I think the moment that you cross from just playing a song to making the audience experience what the song is about, that’s a special moment.”