National Teaching Award Nominee
Arrowhead Union High School, Hartland, Wisconsin
Student Nomination Story
Mr. Garcia Written By: Noah Cull It was Wednesday. I was on a time crunch. It was Solo & Ensemble Festival season, which meant hundreds of students would be preparing solos or group pieces to perform. A recording of my trumpet solo was due the next day, but I hadn’t recorded it yet. I needed to get it done, and maybe even another one after that in case the first one wasn’t quite what I wanted. I got home from school and gave my face a rest. At the end of every day I have a solid 80 minutes of playing; attempting my solo on a beat face wouldn’t be ideal. I had already attempted to save my energy for the recording, and I hoped it would be enough. I thought back to my lesson teacher at Hartland Music, Mr. Garcia and his advice: “You don’t have to play full force the whole piece, that’s just more work for yourself. Try to find spots where you can relax.” Mr. Garcia is a performing musician that mainly plays jazz, but he really knows his stuff when it comes to classical trumpet solos, too. He is a really nice guy, and really puts in work to make sure his students are the best they can be. I opened my laptop and recorded an introduction to the piece; such was standard procedure for submitting your work. I took a deep breath, picked up my instrument and started playing. As I played through, I focused on my music. I had it memorized for the most part, but I didn't memorize all of the articulations or dynamics. When I looked away, not only did I not know how to play it stylistically, but I was more prone to zoning out. I approached a section I had flubbed earlier. Thankfully I hadn't gotten too far into the piece, and restarting wouldn’t be fatal. I took the advice to heart and sailed past the section. Just like he said, I reflected. I locked back in on the next section; a much faster Polonaise with much more complex articulations and rhythms that I had to be on top of. I kept my focus, constantly remembering his advice. “Don’t breathe there,” I heard as I approached one section. “Gradually slow down here, and hold out that last note,” I heard. “Gradually speed up here, not too fast!” I heard, locking in at a nice tempo. I was coasting through this. I got to the fast ending, and glided through. I approached the big ending, and heard “Long! Long! Long! Don’t separate those notes!” as I held out the last note, I rejoiced. I got it. Just about a week later, I received a brief email from my band director. My score came back. It read: Hi Noah, Attached is your WSMA eval. Congrats! I opened the PDF that was attached: My score was a 1 with a little asterisk after it. I had qualified for state. I perform every year through my school, but choose my piece and practice through my lesson teacher, Greg Garcia. Every year the score I receive back is promising and Mr. Garcia is the person I have to thank for it. From helping me improve my technique, break bad habits, and helping me get in a good lesson after a day of rough playing, he never stops making sure his students are the absolute best they can be. Thanks, Mr. Garcia.
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