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Jackson student to drum in Thanksgiving parade


JACKSON -- Members of the Macy's Great American Marching Band performing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade will march to the beat of a different drummer this year -- percussionist Andrew Paulson, a senior at Jackson County Central High School.

Paulson, who also plays the piano and the trumpet, was selected to play the crash cymbals for the Great American Marching Band after submitting an audition recording in September. He received his acceptance letter in October.

"I was in shock, I guess," Paulson said. '"I can't believe I get to go to New York City' -- that was the big thing."

Paulson will fly to New York the Saturday before Thanksgiving, stay with the other members of the band at a hotel, work on music and enjoy a little sightseeing until the parade. His family, including parents Garen and Kim Paulson and brother Zach, an eighth-grader, will join him in New York on Tuesday.

Students from across the United States audition to play in Macy's Great American Marching Band for the parade each year, and representatives from every state are included in the 200-person band. About 185 of them are musicians and the rest carry flags.

This year, student musicians at All-State Band learned that no one from Minnesota had auditioned to be in the Macy's band yet, and the teachers suggested some of the musicians apply.

Paulson decided to give it a try and recorded himself playing the quad drums, demonstrating rudiments, basic skills and performing a solo.

"When I sent it in, I was hoping I'd be accepted, but I didn't know what to think," Paulson said. "I expected to get in, but at the same time, I was ready to find out I wasn't accepted."

Paulson, who started playing the piano in first grade, the drums in fifth grade and the trumpet in 10th grade, plays the trumpet in concert band and percussion in jazz band. He also serves as accompanist for the choir at Jackson County Central and plays the piano at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Jackson.

He most enjoys playing fast, challenging classical music on the piano, such as the work of composer Frederic Chopin. He enjoys playing percussion because percussionists are "the backbone of the band -- you keep the band together and you get to play the cadences between the songs, too."

Paulson participates in baseball, track, FFA and 4-H, in addition to jazz band, swing choir, concert choir and concert band.

He said he would advise anyone interested in joining the Macy's Great American Marching Band to audition.

"I would say go for it. You have nothing to lose by auditioning. It'll definitely be a good experience. If you make it, you get to meet other musicians across the country," Paulson said.