He first tried piano. Then the violin. It wasn’t until Carolyn Rusnak, Lutheran North music teacher, suggested that he play the saxophone, that Alexander Paul tapped into his musical talent.
Eight years later, this Crusader has earned a scholarship to UMKC’s Conservatory of Music, ranked one of the top 50 music schools in the country.
“It is one of the oldest conservatories in the U.S.,” said Alexander, 18. “It has a lot of history and prestige from performers coming out of the school…so that’s great.”
The Conservatory boasts many successful alumni, including Grammy award winners, leading jazz musicians and Broadway performers. Most importantly, the school allows Alexander to focus on both of his passions. Saxophone is not his only talent. Alexander auditioned for voice and saxophone at UMKC and was given the opportunity to pursue both.
Alexander’s first vocal audition was at Lutheran North when he competed in the Academic Fair as a student from Atonement Lutheran School. After that, he learned to sight-read music, and that was the turning point.
“I finally connected with the music,” he said, “and that was a great moment.”
His father, Aaron, played the trumpet when he was younger. His mother, Anna Chatman Paul ‘77, sang in the choir at Lutheran North. Alexander remembers practicing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” over and over again until he finally got it.
“I finally figured out how basic tempo and rhythm worked,” he said.
In addition to band and Concentus choir at Lutheran North, Alexander is involved in school musicals, is a member of the cross-country team, the art club and the Black History Council. He spent his summers at Lutheran Summer Music Academy at Valparaiso University.
Alexander plans to study music education at UMKC and earn a master’s degree in music performance. He hopes one day to play the classical saxophone in the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. If we are lucky, he could end up teaching back at North.
“100%,” he said. “I might just be back home.”