Joslyn Hui, a junior, is excited for her passions to collide at the upcoming National FFA Convention & Expo.
If you ask West Orange High junior Joslyn Hui what she’s passionate about, she will light up and tell you about both her love for music and her involvement in Future Farmers of America.
What’s more is that the two things Joslyn is most passionate about are about to collide. She is one of just 90 students nationwide who were selected to play as a member of the National FFA Band during the 92nd National FFA Convention & Expo.
The National FFA Band and Chorus feature musically talented FFA members from across the nation, according to its website. This year’s convention and expo takes place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Indianapolis, where FFA members nationwide will converge to celebrate their accomplishments and learn from keynote speakers and workshops.
For Joslyn, a flutist, she will have one of the best seats in the house as a member of the band. Her musical inclination began when she was in elementary school and motivated to join a band program in sixth grade. She plays the saxophone for jazz band and flute for marching band.
“How could you not love it?” said Joslyn, 16. “You get to make music, you get to make people smile or cry. It’s just amazing to be able to do marching band and do that kind of thing and feel that exhilaration after you perform. It’s just really exciting to be able to take an inanimate object and make it sing. How could somebody not want to do that?”
“I love my animals. I mean, they just make me smile and actually feel in the very chaotic life that is high school. I get to come here and feel calm, like I’m in my own little world for a bit, no worries. I guess that’s me with music, too." - Joslyn Hui
Although she has been in band for years now, this is just her second year as a member of WOHS’ FFA program. It’s something she instantly fell in love with upon arriving at the school her sophomore year. Joslyn owns five rabbits and a chicken, and she regularly shows her rabbits. Between music and animals, she finds her own little oasis in the midst of the world of high school.
“I love my animals,” she said. “I mean, they just make me smile and actually feel in the very chaotic life that is high school. I get to come here and feel calm, like I’m in my own little world for a bit, no worries. I guess that’s me with music, too. Sometimes when I’m very stressed I’ll pick up a piece of music, grab one of my instruments and play. For a little bit it’s just me and the music, everything else falls away and I feel free for a little while. …I really love having that freedom of just a break from reality, but I also love making people smile — that’s another big part. (Whether it’s) just having a rabbit or taking the flute out, making somebody smile is amazing.”
Joslyn was encouraged to audition for the National FFA Band earlier this year, and finding out she was chosen to be part of it was a feeling she won’t soon forget.
“I was just so happy, I couldn’t stop smiling,” she said. “It was kind of nerve wracking because it was a month of waiting. I still smile when I think about it, because I made national band. I’m ecstatic. This is huge for me, this is huge for my band and for my chapter. I feel honored that I’m able to help our chapter grow in that way of, ‘Hey, look what we can do, look what we’ve done.’”
Balancing academics, FFA commitments and band commitments is a bit of a juggling act, especially as Joslyn prepares to head off to Indianapolis. She will be missing a week of school and also will have to come back from the convention early so she doesn’t miss the band’s Music Performance Assessment, or MPA.
She and other National FFA Band members also don’t receive the music they’ll be playing beforehand. Rather, they’ll learn the music together and bond as a group upon arriving in Indianapolis.
“It’s just really amazing to be able to say I have both sides of my worlds come and meet at one event, and I get to be both FFA and band, instead of just FFA or band,” she said. “So often I’m either a band kid all the way or an FFA kid all the way, because both sides don’t understand each other.
“It’s very hard for other people to understand if they haven’t experienced it,” she said. “I’ll get to be both, which is who I am. I’m not just a flutist, I’m not just a rabbit exhibitor, I’m me.”