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My Town: Music awards piling up for West Ottawa family
My Town: Music awards piling up for West Ottawa family

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Lori Hahn takes a breath while listing the many band-related activities of her three children at West Ottawa High School.

Let’s see. All three – Josh, a senior trumpet player; Ben, a junior trombonist; and Aleah, a freshman who plays the French horn – are in marching band and symphony band. Josh and Ben are also in Pep Band, Jazz I and the Holland Symphony Youth Orchestra (HSYO), along with being in the pit orchestra for West Ottawa High School musicals. Aleah is also in the HSYO. The three of them will be performing a piece at the next HSYO concert.

Ben and Josh have been in the Western Michigan University All-Star Band, Ben for the last two years. Ben has also been All-State with the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) for the last two years after being honorable mention as a freshmen.

 All three also take private lessons and play in the church band.

“It’s insane,” mom says.

Indeed, having three high school students keeps Lori and her husband Nick on their toes, as well as fill their West Olive house with lots of music. Band Director Michael Hamann said he can remember of only one other time when there was more high school band students from one family.

“It's not real common for three in one family. However, we had a family of four brothers who came up through the band program a few years back,” Hamann said. “The kids from both families have been some of our top musicians, so their families have had a lot of great live music for free in their homes. And we have certainly enjoyed having them in class over the past several years.”

 Ben, Josh and Aleah, in fact, earned a first division (or excellent) rating as a brass trio at the recent MSBOA District Solo & Ensemble, where Aleah also received the top rating on her instrument while Ben had a part in four other first division ratings and Aleah and Josh one apiece.

The Hahns started playing music on the piano, but Lori said they all branched out and picked their own instruments from there. Older brother Jacob, 20, plays the baritone and when he was in high school he, Josh and Ben received a first division rating at district and state as a trio.

“There’s always something going on musically here,” Lori said. “If they’re not playing, they’re listening to something on their iPhone or iPod. It is quite fun to listen to them play together. They all embrace their instruments and they probably won’t admit it, but I think they really enjoy playing together.”

They come by that naturally. Lori plays piano and played accompanist for the West Ottawa choir. Nick played the tuba and sang at their church.

“We always highly encouraged them (to play an instrument), just because of the discipline it teaches,” Lori said. “Studies are out there that show how much music helps academically and I think my kids support that.”

Support it, she notes, through such academic endeavors as dual enrollment and service to the community. Josh and Ben are both Eagle Scouts and Aleah is in Girl Scouts and Venturing. They are also in Science Olympiad and active in Our Lady of the Lake Church.

“They’re just great kids and I’m proud of them,” Lori said.

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