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From Beginning to Symphony Band: Andrew Bianchi '23 Reflects on Lessons Learned

Andrew Bianchi ‘23 picked up a trumpet for the first time at the start of Beginning Band his freshman year. Now a senior, Bianchi has advanced to Symphony Band, overcoming challenges and learning important skills along the way. Bianchi shares how the music department has impacted him and advice to students who may be considering music at Catholic Central:

1. How did you first get involved in the music department?

I started playing trumpet in Beginning Band during my freshman year. My older brother, Dominic Bianchi ‘16, also participated in band at CC and spoke very highly of his experience, and this inspired me on my path in music. I always wanted to play the trumpet, but never had the opportunity before coming to CC. As luck would have it, there were only two other freshmen in the class, which meant we received personalized one-on-one teaching from Mr. Normandin.

2. What challenges did you face when you first started in the music program and how did you overcome them?

Learning the trumpet was not an easy process. I had some knowledge of music from piano lessons that I took when I was younger, but making a good trumpet sound takes a lot of time and practice. My goal was to eventually join the symphony band full of experienced players, but I had to practice hard before I was able to do that. Thankfully, I had Mr. Normandin there to help me every step of the way.

3. How has being involved in the music department impacted you as a student and person?

I don’t play any sports, so it enabled me to be part of the community at CC other than just being a student in class. It helped me meet new people and make new friends. It has allowed me to learn to collaborate with the other bandsmen to create beautiful music to perform at festivals, concerts, and football games.

4. Can you share about a specific moment or accomplishment in the music program that you are particularly proud of?

After having surgery this past summer to repair my knee, I was disappointed to learn I likely would not be able to participate in marching band. I was very much looking forward to being part of the on-field ensemble for my senior year. Our new band director, Mr. Bonathan, was very understanding and helped find ways for me to be included even though I couldn’t march. Then, after months of physical therapy, I was cleared to be able to march at our final boys bowl football game. I felt really proud to be able to play and march in one final game.

5. How has your involvement in the music department helped you to grow and develop musically?

When I took piano lessons as a child, it was entirely a solo environment. When I came to CC, I was able to learn the trumpet with individual teaching, but I was also able to learn how to be part of a larger, integrated ensemble. This helped me develop my understanding and abilities toward working with broader teams that I imagined will help me in the workplace in the future.

6. Can you tell us about any extracurricular activities or opportunities you've taken part in within the music department?

Recently, I was able to take part in the band trip to Spain where we marched in a parade in Toledo to mark the feast of the Epiphany. We led the parade as the opening performance and marched for 3 kilometers in front of over 100,000 people. It was an amazing experience. The crowd was energetic and was very appreciative that we came to their city for this important event. This was an unforgettable experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

7. How do you balance your involvement in the music program with your other responsibilities and commitments at CC and outside of school?

There is no way to balance everything I do at CC other than to simply work harder and put in more hours. In addition to being a straight-A student and a member of the band, I am also a member of the robotics team, a leader of the pro-life club, a member of the National Honor Society, a Kairos retreat leader, and an Eagle Scout. It is difficult to balance all of these things without working harder and putting in extra hours.

8. How do you see your involvement in music impacting your future plans and goals?

In college, I intend to pursue a degree in engineering. I don’t expect that I will be able to pursue music studies in college due to the demands of an engineering curriculum. However, my involvement in music will have two lasting impacts on my life. First, it has taught me how to collaborate with a diverse team to achieve an amazing, unified outcome. Second, the knowledge of music that CC helped me develop will allow me to appreciate music and performances throughout the rest of my life.

9. Can you share any advice or tips for students who may be considering joining the music program at CC but have little or no experience?

No experience is necessary at all. You don’t have to be able to read music or know scales; some students come into the beginning band not knowing what instrument they even want to play. All you need is a willingness to want to learn music. For upperclassmen, CC offers music theory and world drumming, which are open to everyone with no experience required.

10. How do you plan to continue your involvement in music after graduating from CC?

Although I don’t intend to be a musician after I graduate, I will always be able to further appreciate music and everything that goes into making it. Whether I’m listening to music in the car or at a live concert, I will always be able to know the process and appreciate the creativity and hard work that went into making the music. I can take the skills of collaboration and practice I learned from band to apply them to everything I do in my life.

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