Delaware Co. teenager beats odds to make music - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Delaware Co. teenager beats odds to make music


Betsy Guthrie, a straight-A senior at Maquoketa Valley High School in Delhi, knows a thing or two about life's unexpected twists.

A car accident in mid-June re-injured the neck Guthrie broke in 2007, rendering her unable to support the weight of her saxophone.

"I was like, 'What do I do? I can't play saxophone.' The audition recording was due in two weeks," Guthrie said.

She faced an audition to play in February with an elite high school band at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

"So I just kind of toughed it out and sent in a recording," she said.

The pain she felt supporting her saxophone while recording her audition paid off. She made the group.

"I was like, 'Ah, I'm going to Carnegie! Dream come true,'" Guthrie said Thursday in her high school band room. "It was a decent recording but obviously I could've done better if I wasn't injured."

Guthrie said she wore a neck brace until August, but her injuries still pained her too much to play her saxophone. Once the school year started, auditions for Iowa's All-State Band were nearing, so Guthrie improvised a solution and picked up the clarinet.

"The change from saxophone to clarinet in a matter of two months before All State auditions was pretty incredible," Guthrie's high school band teacher John Garde said.

Despite having studied clarinet for less than three months, Guthrie made All-State Band.

"I've never seen a student work as hard as she does or attempt to do what she's done in such a short amount of time," Garde said.

Guthrie also led her marching band this fall as drum major, all while recovering from a severe neck injury.

"She is definitely one of a kind," Garde said. "I don't think there's another student out there like Betsy."

"My middle school band director Mrs. Pepin said that 'Failure is not a word in Betsy's dictionary,'" Guthrie said, adding it's a phrase she's beginning to believe.

Guthrie leaves Feb. 7 for New York City and Carnegie Hall, where she'll play her saxophone and join a select group of the nation's top high school musicians.

Guthrie will travel to the Big Apple with her twin brother Ben (the two turned 18 Thursday), her parents and some extended family members. The Guthries live in rural Delaware County.

Guthrie is going to Drake University in the fall and said she'll likely study music education and performance on both the saxophone and clarinet.

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