Prosper High School Junior, Austin Keck, was recently accepted into the Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps at only 16 years old. This makes him one of the youngest members to ever be accepted into the highly competitive group.
Founded in 1967, Santa Clara Vanguard is one of Drum Corp International’s most competitive corps, claiming the world championship title six times and percussion championship title 10 times. The corps travels the entire country, competing in front of thousands of spectators at venues such as the Alamo Dome, Georgia Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
“We have around 3,000 auditions every year with a majority being college music majors,” Tyler Sammons, percussion staff for Santa Clara Vanguard Drum and Bugle Corps, said. “Mr. Keck is an outstanding and talented individual who is a good representation of the excellence of the Prosper Band Program.”
Sammons was a band director for the Prosper Independent School District until 2016.
Austin plays the marimba, a massive instrument that can be played with four mallets and is a popular solo instrument of the percussion family.
“My grandmother was really big into piano and she was also an oboe player,” Keck said. “So music was part of her life growing up. She started bringing music into our lives when we were little and really sparked an interest for music with me.”
Austin joined the school band in sixth grade, which is when his love for percussion began.
“I won’t play music that I don’t like,” Keck said. “When I go to competitions, I am not thinking that I want everyone to clap for me or I want to win first place. I just want to play for myself and the judges and get good feedback. That’s rewarding enough for me.”
Now 17, Austin is looking towards his future and plans to major in music in college. Austin’s family is supportive of his music and aspirations. They have a home studio with a marimba and other equipment set up in their home.
“We’re so proud of him,” said his mother Lisa Keck. “We’re so excited for him and this new adventure. But the thought of him being gone over the summer and then again for college soon is very sad. But we can’t hold him back. He’s a very special person and is very close to our hearts.”
The 50th Anniversary of Santa Clara Vanguard is this year, and the season is expected to be one of the most exciting shows in the corps’ history. To see Austin Keck perform in the Santa Clara Vanguard, individuals can attend a local performance in Denton on July 20. Tickets can be purchased at DCI.org