Mitchell Kilpatrick has been writing music since he was 12 years old.

Mitchell Kilpatrick has been writing music since he was 12 years old.

At first, he said he was just “playing around.” Writing songs in his spare time, it became a way for him to put into words what he could not say out loud.

“I see it as a more spontaneous flow of emotion,” said the recent Truman High School graduate. “I usually write most of the song and then take it to my band mates who start throwing out some ideas. It is almost like a rough draft kind of process with lots of revisions.”

The musician

Kilpatrick has always been interested in music. He said he is not sure when it became less of a hobby and more of a passion, but it is definitely something that is in his blood.

“I want to become better at music. I think I have known that for a while,” he said. “I just love music and performing. When I am stressed out I write. I sit and just play. You almost lose yourself in the music and forget everything else.”

Laura Kilpatrick, Mitchell’s mother, said she figured out when he was only 3 years old, that her son had a talent.

“We were riding in the car listening to the radio. An Elton John song came on, and as I was singing along, I realized he was harmonizing with the melody and matching the harmony parts that were in the song,” she said. “It was then that I realized he had a ‘gifted ear’ for music. As he’s gotten older, he can play pretty much any instrument you put in his hand.”

Those instruments include the guitar and keyboard as well as trumpet, which he has played in the Truman High School Band for the last four years. Laura Kilpatrick said he has also been known to “piddle” on the French horn, trombone, clarinet and harmonica.

“We are beginning to realize how quiet the house will be in just two more months,” she said. “Mitch is always singing and playing an instrument, mostly his guitar, keyboards or trumpet. Our ‘musical home’ is filled with four pianos, four guitars, amps and PA equipment, a drum set, two trumpets, a trombone and a clarinet.”

The band

As he has gotten older, Kilpatrick’s focus has moved in a different direction from high school bands. He, along with two other Truman graduates Derrick Evans and Tyler Macoubrie, formed the band Answer Me Dancer last fall. Mitchell plays guitar and is the lead singer.

“I have been with the same guys since I was 15, but this is a new band we just started,” he said. “It is a great group of guys, and we have a lot of fun together.”

Macoubrie said the band classifies themselves as pop punk, with a lot of influence from groups such as All Time Low, We The Kings and Mayday Parade. He said he feels the reason the band clicks so well is because of similar interests.

A lot of people consider being in a band hard work, but for us, we’re just hanging out like we normally do, only with musical instruments in our hands,” he said. “I would love to see us get signed to a label. If that happened, I think it would be a dream come true for all us because then we would be getting paid to do what we love.”

It was a song, which Mitchell wrote for Answer Me Dancer, that recently won statewide recognition after it placed first in the fifth-annual Creating Original Music Project competition. The competition is a joint venture between the University of Missouri School of Music and the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage K-12 students in Missouri to write original music. There were more than 100 entries in this year’s competition. Kilpatrick won in the High School Pop category for “Bullet.”

“I was actually shocked because I had forgotten that he had entered our song in the competition,” Macoubrie said. “At first I thought he was joking with Derrick and I, but his mom confirmed it and we kind of last it after that.”

Winning compositions were performed at the COMP Festival at MU in April. In addition to a cash award for Mitchell, the Truman High School music program was also awarded a cash prize.

“I was really lucky because there was a whole bunch of people who applied this year,” Mitchell said. “I was truly surprised that I won because I have never tried anything like that before. I was like ’wow!’”

Laura Kilpatrick said she about “fell out of her chair” when she found out.

“My heart started racing. I brought my hands up to my face as I gasped. Then I cried for joy,” she said. “I had to call one of the band member’s moms to tell her the news right away. I repeated myself several times because she couldn’t understand me. It’s safe to say I was a little hysterical. He was going to enter this competition last year, but he could not make the deadline in time. I wish he had a couple more years to keep entering.”

The other side of mitchell

Music is not the only thing that keeps Mitchell occupied.

Not one to slack off in school, Mitchell loaded up on upper-level courses his senior year including calculus and trigonometry. He said math has always come easy to him. At one point, he even thought about being an engineer.

“I sort of overloaded myself my last semester with all of the advanced classes,” he said. “I ask myself all the time why I did that. Sometimes it seemed like all I did was go to school, play baseball, do homework and go to bed. At 6:30 a.m. the next morning, it started all over again.”

Mitchell is also an Eagle Scout with Troop 161. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of his music and other commitments, Boy Scouts is one activity he’s been forced to drop.

Another of his other passions is baseball. Playing since he was 5 years old, Mitchell said it is the one hobby he has not dropped because of music or increasingly difficult school work. As a senior, he was a member of the Truman Varsity baseball team. Although he admits he did not play a lot, it is something he still loves.

“I’ve been doing it for a while,” he said. “It is my hobby and passion. I am kind of a competitive person, so it fits me really well.”

However, when Mitchell was accepted to Berklee School of Music in Boston, Mass., for a five-week summer music workshop this summer, he had a difficult decision to make – attend the music camp or continue playing baseball with American Legion Post 21. In the end, he said, he had to be realistic.

“Music is going to take me much further than baseball,” he said. “It was really hard to make that decision, but it is a decision that is going to benefit me the most. That is what I had to realize.”

During the music workshop, Mitchell hopes to refine his performance.

“I think it will give me help with my voice as well as song writing,” he said. “All of that is very beneficial to what I want to become later in life.”

The future

Although uncertain as to what the future will hold, Mitchell is confident that music and Answer Me Dancer will be involved. The band performs once or twice a month in the Kansas City metropolitan area, including a recent concert at the Uptown Theatre in Kansas City. The group has also played a benefit concert at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, and at the Awards Ceremony for COMP at MU.

Mitchell plans to attend Missouri State University in Springfield this fall. He wants to study entertainment management to perhaps one day become a representative for a record label.

However, Mitchell has not ruled out performing with Answer Me Dancer. Even though the band is spread out – Derrick attends Northwest Missouri State and is a 2008 Truman graduate, and Tyler is a 2009 Truman Grad and attends Missouri Western – he said they plan to continue playing together and have created a three-song demo. The ultimate goal – to sign with a record label and tour .

“I think driving across the U.S. would be the best. We are all really good friends and would have a lot of fun doing that,” he said. “I think, though, there is always that idea in the back of my head that we are not good enough to perform like that. No matter what happens, I know I want to be involved in the music business somehow. That is what would make me happy.”