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Rolla horn player overcomes challenge to make it to the marching field

Carter Chance performs with the Rolla High School Band during the school's homecoming football game.
Jonathan Ahl
St. Louis Public Radio
Carter Chance performs with the Rolla High School Band during the school's homecoming football game.

ROLLA — Nothing stops Carter Chance from marching in his high school band.

Not cerebral palsy or even a pandemic.

Chance has limited use of his right arm and hand. The French horn was the perfect instrument for him, because it’s played with the left hand. But the marching version, the mellophone, is played with the right hand.

When we last heard from Chance, he was in eighth grade and getting help from the Rolla school district’s Technical Institute to figure out a way to play the mellophone left-handed and support the weight of the instrument.

COVID concerns canceled marching band his freshman year, but today Chance is a member of the band and has marched in parades, football halftime shows and competitions.

He started his sophomore season with a device designed with help from the technical institute to support the instrument. It was essential in August during rehearsals that went all day, but it was difficult to use.

“I got sick of it, and then I started using it without the contraption,” Chance said.

He slowly built up strength in his left arm to hold and play the mellophone, with a little assistance from his right arm.

“I am able to hold it with only one hand,” Chance said.

Now he marches and plays the mellophone left-handed with no assistance.

Chance’s family, friends and teachers are not surprised that he was able to figure out a way to make it work.

“He’s just been a trouper, he never complains. Always does whatever we ask him to do, always does it to 100% of his ability,” said Rolla Band Director John Slowensky. “He’s an amazing young man.”

That ability is at the high level the band expects, and he has found a great deal of camaraderie with his fellow members, especially in the mellophone section.

“Our section has kind of a weird dynamic, that I feel is different than the rest of the band, but all nine of us are pretty much family, and Carter is part of that,” said senior Anne Marie Beavis, the section leader of the mellophones.

Chance wanted to find a way to march because he got excited every time he heard the marching band when he was younger.

“It feels the same way. I still have excitement performing the show and with these people, the people in my section, I just love them so much,” Chance said.

Chance and the rest of the Rolla High School marching band will compete Saturday at a festival in St. Genevieve and finish the season on Oct. 30 at the Greater St. Louis Marching Band Festival in Belleville.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.