Drew Zaremba gives advice to middle school

On October 10, guest artist Drew Zaremba came to ASL. He had previously been a student of the new middle school band teacher, Carolyn Stock-Chapin when she was still working in Brussels. He talked to middle school students during each grade’s music block about music and his career, and started the lecture by playing a piece on his saxophone.

Mr. Zaremba received his degrees in music from the University of North Texas in jazz arranging and composition. He is currently a professional freelance musician and composer. He plays saxophone (both tenor and alto), piano, clarinet, and flute. He started playing the saxophone (his primary instrument) when he was ten and he started the piano when he was five. He picked up the clarinet and flute later in his life.

When asked what his favorite instrument was, he said that he had no favorites but particularly liked the sound of the cello and the french horn. He also mentioned that he liked the sound and the emotion of the saxophone, and how with the piano you could have a whole orchestra at your fingertips.

Mr. Zaremba recommends sticking with music through high school, as many of the people he’s met in life say that they wished they continued practicing their instruments past school age. He said that if you wanted to continue music and maybe even have a career in the music industry, you have to practice, be dedicated, and stick with your goals. Being a musician is hard work, so he takes all the jobs he can get.

He explained that musicians can make money in many different ways. One way is performance, and he mentioned that as “essential.” Performance is sharing your music with other people, whether it’s through a rock band, a classical symphony orchestra or anything in between.

Another way to make a living is to become a composer, which is mostly what he wants to do. Composers make music for other people to perform.

An additional; to make money is to become a teacher. He said that teachers “influence the next generation,” and can shape the way that young people view music.

The final way that he talked about was to be in the administrative aspect. Some jobs in this section include being a producer, an audio engineer, an agent for other musicians, or a music lawyer. These are all important for helping other musicians become successful, and so should not be ignored or labeled as unimportant or boring.

Performers yearn for the acceptance of their audience. Sometimes they get that acceptance, and other times not. The way that criticism is taken depends on the person. When asked what he thought when he was laughed at, which he mentioned had happened a lot, he said that he just thought “That’s just one person. That’s just one person [out of many that appreciate me]”  and kept going. But he also said that you should take note of it, saying, “Their criticism shapes who you are.”

He prefers jazz over other genres of music, and said that he really started to get into jazz when he was eleven or twelve. When asked why he likes this genre instead of (for example) rock, he said that jazz was much more complex. He then explained, playing on the piano while he was talking, that jazz uses seventh chords, which are more complicated and layered than rock’s traditional triad chords. He said that it was easy to go back to triads after sevenths, and so he could still play rock, but he still preferred jazz.

As a musician, he said that he is always looking for clarity and sincerity. Clarity is the range of the music and the tone, he explained, but sincerity is something else. He then played a tune on the saxophone and asked what emotions students felt like when they listened to it. He got many answers, ranging from being happy to mournful. “Sincerity, for me, has to do with your personality,” he explained, adding “Part of sincerity is being humble.”

He then asked about the music program in the middle school and found out that all students have to play an instrument and sing in the choir. He said that this was very good, and more programs should do this. He explained that when you just play an instrument, you just associate chords with buttons. If you’re asked to play a certain tune, you just associate it with the buttons or the chords. However, if you take music and choir, you also deal with emotions. Instead of just associating a note with a key, you also think of it as a feeling. “There has to be a connection between the notes and the person,” Mr. Zaremba said.

“Musicians perceive the world differently than other people,” he said. “That’s what shapes them the way that they are.”

About Mackensie Kim ('21)

Arts Editor (2016-2017)

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