When the Lakes High School band is playing, it can be hard to find Cole Henslee among the ensemble. This is because you never know where he might be. He may be in the back beating on drums with the percussionists, tucked in with the wind instruments playing clarinet or blending in with the brass players playing the trumpet or trombone.
He’s the “Where’s Waldo?” of the Lakes wind ensemble.
Cole is as versatile a performer as you’ll find in a high school band. He’s comfortable no matter what instrument he’s playing. However, you’ll know Cole is happiest if you see a tuba in his arms.
“The tuba doesn’t play the most exciting parts of the music,” he said. “But I always try to have fun with it any way I can. I really enjoy it.”
Growing up, Cole’s father was a blues guitarist and got him interested in music at an early age. Cole had a guitar in his hands starting at age four. He started playing the piano shortly after that and has starred in a number of small bands, performing at open mic nights around the area.
He intends to turn his love of music into a career. He recently learned he was accepted into the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and plans to attend and earn a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis on performing with the tuba. He has long dreamed of becoming a conductor, but he is also considering joining a military band so he can play the tuba professionally.
“Cole is a prodigy; I really believe that,” said Lakes band director Tami Johnson. “He’s very serious about improving and is constantly reading and listening to music. I have no doubt that he’ll be successful in whatever he does with music in the future.”
Cole is also a member of the Lakes ASB and has taken an active role in mentoring younger Lakes band students. According to Johnson, Cole has been working with a freshman tuba player this year and shown patience and provided encouragement in helping him grow.
Cole is one example of the more than 12,000 students in Clover Park School District who succeed inside and outside the classroom every day. He has turned his passion for music into skills he will be able to use to build his future.