13 questions with senior Tanner Callis


Anniston Weber

Callis at the Fall Orchestra and Vocal Concert.

From writing his own music, to being named Homecoming King, senior Tanner Callis has achieved several great things during his high school career. Callis has been involved with the Kansas All-State Orchestra and the Western Kansas String Academy, and plans to continue with his musicianship after graduating.

1. When did you start developing an interest in music?

“When I was about five.”

2. What instruments do you play?

“Cello and guitar.”

3. Which instrument would you say is your favorite? Why?

“Cello, because I’ve gone further in training than I have with the guitar. Also, whenever I play in groups, I can grab the melody, harmony, bass, and accompany lines as needed. With guitar, I
only know how to do accompany parts.”

4. Which was the hardest to learn? Why?

“Cello, because, like with anything, the more you learn, the harder it gets.”

5. Who or what is your greatest inspiration?

“Most of my inspiration to make music that ‘sounds cool’ comes from comparing soundtracks of media, such as games and movies, and wanting to replicate that exact song, tone, style, etc. or mix others together. On the improvement side of inspiration, I always like to say that ‘All I can do is my best, right?’ The need to sound better than I did the day before is omnipresent, so fighting my previous performances not only remains the greatest challenge, but the most delightful reward.”

Callis and senior Marie Reveles at the Homecoming crowning ceremony.
Sierra Eichman
Callis and senior Marie Reveles at the Homecoming crowning ceremony.

6. When did you begin to explore writing your own music?

“When me and my siblings used to do more paying gigs, there would always be chicken scratch jotted down on the tiniest scraps of paper. What was on those slips were chord and form patterns that we made up for each of our different songs we learned to cater to the many styles of music out there. Because we recorded notes like this, writing music came to me easier when the small orchestral group was reformed my sophomore year.”

7. What is your favorite piece that you’ve written? Why?

“Definitely ‘When Fire Dances,’ a tango-inspired piece. It was my favorite because when we performed it at the 2014 Winter Concert, we had both band and orchestra members of all ages with us on stage.”

8. Do you plan to continue your musicianship after high school?

“I’ll always be a musician—I’m in too deep to try to change that. As to if music ever becomes a professional thing, most likely not.”

Callis at the Fall Orchestra and Vocal Concert.
Anniston Weber
Callis at the Fall Orchestra and Vocal Concert.

9. What would you consider your greatest accomplishment to be?

“My greatest music accomplishment, statistically, would be my two-year streak in the Kansas All-State Orchestra. On the fun side, I can’t ever discuss recent achievements without harking back to my days in the Western Kansas String Academy. That, combined with the time spent with my siblings, will always be my most memorable musical endeavor.”

10. Are you currently working on producing new music?

“I am, actually! I’m in the process of pulling together our small orchestral ensemble one last time to perform ‘The Parting Glass,’ a traditional Celtic song, at our 2016 Winter Concert. Time and participation permitting, I hope we can return to the stage and perform for all of you.”

11. How has your family influenced you throughout your life?

“Oh, where would I be without my family? They are my dearest friends and the most supportive team I could have ever asked for! I appreciate everything, even the annoying bits, that they’ve done for me, and I hope that one day I’ll be able to return my thanks handsomely enough.”

12. Aside from music, what are some of your other passions?

“Art. I love drawing, and I’m finding myself enjoying painting more as well. I’ve also picked up on writing within the past couple years, but I’m not very good at it yet. Lastly, while I know that watching movies isn’t particularly a talent, I ambitiously pursue watching anime as if it were another one of my passions.”

13. What would you say to anyone considering getting involved with making their own music?

“We rely on entertainment to pull us through each day more than we give it credit. While at first you may not write something that’s particularly ‘good,’ you’ve created art — take pride in that. The music that you or anyone else want to hear comes from appreciating and integrating the variety of styles already out there to create your own. It’s perfectly fine to rip off other artists – everyone’s done it — so long as you acknowledge your inspiration and throw a bit of ‘you’ in there. After you’ve made several little tunes and rhythms, you might end up with one that, to you, is ‘not half bad at all.’ Be patient with the process, but be ambitious with the results. You’ll never know until you try.”