When Ty Smith started playing the alto saxophone in fifth grade he had no idea that someday it would earn him a trip to Europe to play in several venues as a Nebraska Ambassador of Music. In June, Ty departed on a 16-day journey with 214-other Nebraska band, choir and orchestra students.
“The thing I enjoyed most about being an ambassador was sharing our music with other cultures,” the Elwood graduate said. “The country that I enjoyed visiting the most was Switzerland and Swiss culture.”
The 200-plus students were selected from hundreds of applications earlier in 2018 for the trip, according to Matt Sheppard, Nebraska Ambassador of Music Tour Director. Only music teachers could submit applications.
“Nebraska has been taking groups since the early 1980s and travels every odd year,” Sheppard said. “Of the 215 students, several perform in both band and choir; 150 were in the band, 120 in the choir and 12 in the orchestra.”
Smith is a talented alto saxophone player and has been playing since he was in the fifth grade. Nicole Nickell, Elwood Public School’s music teacher has enjoyed having him in her classroom.
Nickell nominated Smith and he is the first student in the history of the school to earn a spot as an ambassador with the band. The Elwood school had a student go in 2005 as a member of the choir and that was Ruby Gutschow.
“I feel Ty will benefit from this trip,” Nickell said. “It will give him a chance to play his alto saxophone with a talented group of musicians from across Nebraska. “I believe this experience will touch his life forever. I’m happy that he gets to take part in this opportunity. It’s a great way to make lifelong friends and see Europe.”
As a student, Nickell said Smith always pushed himself. “Ty is a kid who puts his whole heart into what he enjoys doing,” she explained. “He has good character and morals. He is a student who has always tried to do his best when it came to band. His hard work and practice has helped make him a talented musician who continues to improve. He has been seen as a leader throughout his junior and senior high school band experiences.”
Smith said he was very honored that Nickell had nominated him for the international music trip. “When I got the news that I was selected for the trip it made me realize that my hard work in music had paid off and I just knew that it would be the trip of a lifetime,” he added.
“Mrs. Nickell has always encouraged me to do new things in music that would make me a better musician,” Smith pointed out. “She has always been there to help if I needed it and that is one thing that makes her a great music teacher. I am grateful that I was able to be taught by her the eight years I was in band.”
The Nebraska students attending the musical tour crossed Europe visiting seven countries and discovering international cultures.