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Posts Tagged ‘Garfield High School’

Milestone—My First Tutored Student’s Last Concert at Garfield High School

Posted by glennled on June 26, 2018

 

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Benjamin Laverde, Principal Tubist, Senior, Garfield Symphony Orchestra, 2018, conducted by Kimberly Roy

 

“Become Your Best!” is the motto I printed on my business card in 2009 when I began private tutoring of trumpet and cornet students. In the nine years I’ve been doing this, the most accomplished musician to whom I ever gave private lessons just graduated from Garfield High School and will attend Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts this fall. He is Benjamin Laverde, tubist.

Benjamin Laverde (R), cornetist, 4th grader, plays in his first public school concert, Lowell Elementary School, Seattle

Ben was my very first student. I taught him to play his cornet when he was a 4th and 5th grader at Lowell Elementary School on Capitol Hill in Seattle. He made All-City Honors Elementary Band in 2011 as a 5th grader (see my blog post of 10 April 2011). Our lessons were fun. Often, for example, when I would arrive at his home in Crown Hill, we would play “Hide and Seek.” I’d walk in the front door and ask his mom, “Where’s Ben?” He would be lying flat, face down, arms tight against his sides, rigid, on the living room couch. She’d say, “I don’t know. Perhaps he’s downstairs.” I’d say, “I’ll just wait here on the couch while you go find him.” At the last instant as I sat down, he would quickly squirm out of the way, and I would say, “Oh, here he is! I found him.” And we would all laugh and get down to business. He was always smart, talented, curious, explorative, and energetic.

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Benjamin Laverde, Senior, Garfield High School, Seattle

From the very beginning, he told me that he ultimately wanted to play tuba. His chance to do so came when he was preparing to enter Hamilton International Middle School (HMIS) in Wallingford as a 6th grader. At a music orientation session in the spring while he was still a 5th grader, he told the HMIS band director, Daniel Rowe, that he wanted to play tuba, so Mr. Rowe gave him a smaller-size tuba to practice that summer. Alas, after two years (2009-2011), I lost my first “trumpet” student. (But he still owns his cornet.)

Ben Tackles the Tuba

Meanwhile, I had picked up Trumpet Student No. 11  who lives in Magnolia and was attending Lawton Elementary School (see my blog post of 14 November 2010). Eventually, he also entered HMIS, and when I attended some of his band concerts, there also was Ben on tuba in the more advanced band. At one such concert in 2014, I learned from his parents that, as an 8th grader in 2013, Ben had made the beginning orchestra of the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (SYSO) and that Ben would be attending Garfield High School.

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Ben Laverde, Principal Tubist, Garfield Symphony Orchestra, 13 June 2018

Year by year, Ben progressed through SYSO’s system of the four full orchestras which include brass players: Symphonette (Beginning), Debut (Intermediate), Junior (Advanced Intermediate), and finally, while a senior at Garfield, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (Flagship) where he was principal tubist. According to the SYSO website (www.syso.org), “The orchestra performs three regular season concerts in Benaroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony, and regularly partners with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Seattle Opera, regional Broadway musical theater organizations, local choruses, and internationally acclaimed guest artists and conductors.” SYSO was founded in 1942, during World War II. Ben performed in yearly side-by-side concerts with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra for four years (2015-2018).

In 2016, Ben made All-State Concert Band, sponsored by the Washington Music Educators Association. He has studied with the following tuba tutors:

  • 2012-13—Ryan Schultz, current principal tubist of the Pacific Northwest Ballet
  • 2014-15—Chris Olka, former principal tubist of the Seattle Symphony
  • 2016-17—Jon Hill, former Artist in Residence, University of Washington
  • 2018—John DiCesare, current principal tubist Seattle Symphony

Recently, when I asked Ben what had always attracted him to tuba, he said that originally, it was because he liked the Sousaphones which he saw in a marching band. They looked cool, and he liked the sound. Ironically, he’s never played in a marching band. It doesn’t bother him that he almost never gets to play melodies and solos. In fact, for him, playing bass is more fun and less stressful.

Among his most memorable highlights while at Garfield was a trip to New York City in March 2017, when the orchestra performed at Elizabeth High School in New Jersey. Another was performing in May 2018, with the famous Seattle rapper, Macklemore, at the Seattle Symphony’s “Youth. Equity. Access” concert hosted by Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback. A third was when he performed in June 2015, at the benefit, “Canoche, a Night with Robinson Cano & Friends.” Cano is the Seattle Mariners’ All-Star second baseman, and at the dinner were some of Cano’s friends from both the Mariners and New York Yankees, the Seattle Seahawks, and rapper mogul and agent, Jay-Z.

Ben’s Last Garfield Orchestra Concert

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Aadi Lahiri, principal trumpeter, Garfield Symphony Orchestra, played the solos in Handel’s “Music for the Royal Fireworks,” 13 June 2018

On 13 June 2018, as Principal Tubist of the 82-member Garfield Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kimberly Roy, Ben performed in his last school concert—the Graduation Concert. I made it a point to attend and mark this milestone by seeing and hearing my most accomplished former student one final time. I met him, his parents, William and Kara, and his grandparents there. The orchestra, which includes five trumpeters, performed the following challenging pieces splendidly:

  • “Music for the Royal Fireworks” by George Frideric Handel, featuring Aadi Lahiri, trumpeter
  • “Cello Concerto, op. 85” by Edward Elgar, featuring Jonathan Lin, cellist
  • “Concerto in C, op.37” by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, featuring Zofia Sabee, cellist
  • “Symphonic Dances” from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein

Aadi Lahiri, trumpeter, will be attending St. John’s College in the fall, majoring in philosophy and math with a minor in music. St. John’s is one college with two campuses, one in Annapolis, Maryland and one in Santa Fe, New Mexico, both historic state capitals.

Ben’s Future: Clark University

Ben will attend Clark University on an academic scholarship. He says he’s undecided about a degree major, but it seems unlikely to be music. However, his parents say they would not be surprised if Ben finds some way to continue to playing tuba while at Clark.

A liberal-arts based, private non-profit, research university, Clark was founded in 1887. According to its website, it has a student/faculty ratio of 10:1. The average undergraduate class size is 21. The total enrollment of degree-seeking students in 2017 was about 3100. The average high school GPA of its first-year undergraduates (day college) is 3.63. The most popular declared majors (5-year average, including double-majors) are Psychology (17%); and Biology, Economics, Political Science, and Business Management (7% each). Ben is very impressed with Clark’s geography degree program. The Graduate School of Geography at Clark has granted more Ph.D degrees in that field than any other program in the USA. As of May 2017, Clark had about 550 endowment funds with a combined market value of ~$411 million. The percentage of undergraduates who receive some kind of financial aid is 93%. Please see http://www.clarku.edu.

Worchester is the second most populous city (~185,000) in New England, after Boston, which is about 40 miles east.

“Become Your Best!”—has Ben been done it? For now, yes indeed, but forever, no. His adult life is just beginning, and we can all continuously get better until we pass. I’m very proud of him. Viva Ben! Viva La Musique!

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

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Senior Ensembles Spring Concert, Washington Middle School, Seattle

Posted by glennled on July 25, 2016

 

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WMS Concert Band, Ms. Kelly Barr-Clingan introduces Mr. Trimis, Guest Conductor

 

On 14 June, the Senior Ensembles Spring Concert by Washington Middle School (WMS) drew an enthusiastic, standing-room only crowd at the Quincy Jones Performance Center at Garfield High School in Seattle. It took about two and a half hours, but the enthusiasm never waned, and the concert ended with the grateful audience giving a standing ovation to the outgoing Director of Bands and Jazz, Kelly Barr-Clingan.

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Farewell, beloved Kelly Barr-Clingan

In the past 8 years, I’ve attended many school concerts at numerous places in the Greater Seattle area, and for me, this concert format was unique. In between the major choir, orchestra, and band performances, different student ensembles played and/or sang. Each one was called a “Jazz/Fidd Cornerstone Group,” apparently playing music of its choice. What a unique way of getting lots of students personally involved and willing to perform for the public! Imagine the many more practice sessions they would have, compared to the lesser amount of practice they would do for a more conventional concert. Imagine the friendships that develop from working together in small groups. Fun!

Another unique feature of this concert was the involvement of Banda Vagos, playing music from Mexico with the combined choir, band and orchestra early in the program. Please see https://www.facebook.com/BANDA.VAGOS.

How did I know about this concert? Why did I go? Because one of the 12 trumpet players in the Concert Band takes private lessons from me. I posted a story about him on 13 April 2016.

WMS’s enrollment is exceeds 1,100 students, and “more than half of the school’s population is enrolled in a music ensemble.” To learn more about the music program, please see:

The new Director of Bands and Jazz is Jared Sessink, a trumpeter of renown. He was the only American finalist in the 2013 International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition. Elizabeth Fortune is Director of Orchestras and Eclectic Strings. Blake Saunders is Director of Choirs.

Please click on any photo to enlarge it.

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My 28th Trumpet Student—Senior Band Member at Prestigious Washington Middle School, Seattle

Posted by glennled on April 13, 2016

th38GNGQ82My 28th trumpet student is a cohort—in fact, a Highly Capable Cohort. He lives in West Seattle, but he commutes to Washington Middle School (WMS) on Jackson Street in the Central District, where he is among other cohorts (i.e., friends, colleagues, companions, associates). HCC was formerly known as APP (Accelerated Progress Program). HCC students have achievement test scores at or above the 95th percentile and cognitive test scores at or above the 98th percentile. Wow, I’m impressed!

We started his trumpet lessons on the last day of February in this Leap Year. We meet at a practice studio at Ted Brown Music in the University District (see http://www.tedbrownmusic.com). He’s been playing since 4th grade and is now a 7th grader. He’s also in his third year of piano lessons. Trumpet is his primary instrument, but when the family inherited a piano, he started playing it out of curiosity and for pleasure. And he takes piano lessons, too. Obviously, he enjoys learning.

What attracted him to the trumpet? Its power, he says. It sounds triumphant. But it also can sound sweet, and it can scream. And finally, it has only 3 buttons! Now that he’s been playing for four years, he wants to improve his range, tone, and articulation, as well as improve his all-around playing ability. His trumpet is a Getzen Model 700S Eterna II, manufactured in 2012 (see http://www.getzen.com/trumpet/). He plans to attend Garfield High School, which is renowned nationally for it music program, and he wants to play throughout high school and college. He often wears University of Washington shirts, and the WMS school mascot is the Junior Husky. (Someday, we might end up playing trumpet together in the Husky Alumni Band.)washmidschool_logo

At WMS (grades 6-8), there are four concert bands, conducted by Kelly Barr-Clingan, Director of Bands and Jazz and an active trombonist and vocalist. Please see http://washingtonmsmusic.com/wmsmusic.com/Welcome.html. My student plays in the Senior Band, and he enjoys movie sound tracks, especially Star Wars. Last year, he was a member of the All-City Junior Band. Last summer, he marched in three community parades: Renton River Days, West Seattle Hi-Yu Festival, and Queen Anne Days.

On 26-28 May this year, the Senior Band, Senior Choir, and Senior Orchestra are giving four performances in the Vancouver, B.C. Heritage Festival. The trip is organized through Worldstrides, a leader in educational trips for students (see https://worldstrides.com/itineraries/vancouver-heritage-festival/). On 14 June, WMS will present its Spring Concert at Garfield High School, featuring all the senior groups. More than half of the school’s population is enrolled in the 13 daily music ensembles. In addition, there are four after-school music offerings. Wow, I’m impressed!

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Check it Out–Honk! Fest West in Seattle, 13-15 May 2011

Posted by glennled on March 24, 2011

Honk! Fest West 2010, Hubbub Club, Photo by Joe Mabel

Honk! Fest West 2010, Yellow Hat Band, Photo by Joe Mabel
Honk! Fest West 2010, Orkestar Slivovica, Photo by Joe Mabel

Several of my students want to play in a group someday but either are not yet ready or haven’t found one to join. You are not alone. Many people all over the Greater Seattle area have the same desire, and if you go to the 4th annual Honk! Fest West on 13-15 May, you’ll see hundreds of other musicians. Bring your own trumpet, if you want–you’ll find a way to play–or just come to listen and meet people. “No noise is illegal!” they say about this street fair.

Honk! Fest brings out musicians of all stripes and sounds. This year about 20 bands “large and small (anywhere from 8 – 60 members) will come from 7 states and one Canadian province, ready with old ditties, new tunes, fighting songs, protest marches, funeral dirges, swinging gospel, Balkan folk, tin pan jazz, and everything in between marching bands, samba lines, horn players, drum corps, and others,” according to the festival’s website, http://honkfestwest.com. Among the 11 bands from the Seattle area are the Seattle Seahawks Blue Thunder Drumline, Seattle Sounders FC Soundwave, Tubaluba, Orkestar Zirkonium, and two bands from Garfield High School. Or maybe you’d rather hear the bands coming from Montana, California, Arizona, Illinois, Oregon, or British Columbia. At the Honk! Fest West website, you’ll find links to the websites of most of these bands, where you can see pictures and hear samples of their music.

On Friday, the main site is in Georgetown, and on Saturday, it moves to Fremont and Gasworks Park. The finale on Sunday is at Seattle Center and the International Fountain. For more details, visit the above website. Ask about the Pick-Up Band that will be formed during this event. Now mark your calendars, and maybe I’ll see you there, somewhere!

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4th Grader Performs at Spring Concert in Seattle

Posted by glennled on May 25, 2010

Surprise! the conductor at the spring concert last night at an elementary school in downtown Seattle also conducted at the previous school concert I attended two weeks ago in North Seattle (see post below). He does double duty–whew!  That would exhaust me.

At this school, the music program consists of four parts: beginning strings, brass, and winds; intermediate winds and strings; advanced band and strings; and orchestra. For the concert program,  there were 8 group performances. My fourth-grade cornet student is in the Intermediate Winds group, along with two trumpet players. I recognized his tone. He has progressed so fast and far this year! His group played “Sawmill Creek,” “Regal March,” and “Minor Rock.”  He played well and was very well behaved the entire night.

I was proud of him, but not nearly as much, I’m sure, as were his grandparents, sister, and parents, who filmed the event. They said many musicians from this school eventually feed into Garfield High School. And as we know, Garfield recently won the nationwide Essentially Ellington jazz competition in New York for the fourth time. Is that the direction my guy is headed? Let’s just wait and see what happens next year…one step at a time, please. Remember the adage, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

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