anthony chae

Finding the right tune for his future

A silver Bach trumpet. A music stand lined with musical pieces. These are typical items for any trumpeter. But for sophomore Anthony Chae, these items in his room symbolize his lasting aspirations for music.   

Chae, a member of Advanced Jazz Band, Symphonic Orchestra and the Blue Thunder Marching Band, plays a wide assortment of musical pieces. Ever since fifth grade, when he was asked to learn to play an instrument as a part of the curriculum, he has expressed an interest in learning and playing music.

“You had to go and pick instruments [and] play it for that year. I liked the trumpet because it was loud and it kind of resembled how I felt at that time,” Chae said. “I was loud and energetic. It sounded cool to me, and I stuck with it.”

Aiming to teach others about music, Chae plans to pursue a degree at a music institution such as University of Southern California Thornton School of Music or Berkeley School of Music. While working toward a middle school teaching career, he hopes to tutor elementary students that want to learn how to play an instrument. By helping his peers with concepts of music theory, Chae gained the inspiration to become a teacher.

“Seeing growth is one of my favorite things. Seeing [a person’s] journey is really interesting,” Chae said. “[Young children] like to learn about anything, so teaching [a younger] generation would be so intriguing as a profession.”

As the marching band captain of the trumpet section, for instance, he ensures that sound is synchronized and refined for performances. Additionally, he makes sure that the marching formation is uniform among trumpeters in the band. By teaching, Chae learned from fellow musicians as he formed friendships with them.

“When I first came into Walnut, I had a lot of band classes, so I would always try finding friends there. Of course, I had my friends from middle school but also I wanted to try [to] find new people,” Chae said. “Through different music classes, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of senior friends and I’ve related to them quite a bit. I became really good friends with people who are older than me, which I never thought was possible.”

Besides providing flexibility in his relationships, being a member in multiple bands has also presented various playing styles. While jazz songs provide fast-paced improvisation, orchestral pieces are often slow and rhythmic ballads. For Chae, this contrasting musical backdrop represents the ability to give voice to feelings through art.

“It was really hard for me to express my emotions because I was taught what was right and what was wrong,” Chae said. “I was really quiet. Getting my emotions out wasn’t that easy. That sense of relating to [music] was really nice to me. The audience gets to see what emotions [you are] putting out.”

With the events of the ongoing pandemic, many of his in-person plans, including competing in an extracurricular honor band, have been canceled. His performances, likewise, are not on stage but instead are concerts with submitted video clips. With more time available during quarantine, Chae has turned to cooking.

“I like seeking every single detail, I like expressing every single thing out of music [and its] dynamics,” Chae said. “Cooking is also really meticulous: getting the right portions of ingredients [and knowing] what you need [and] how to make this [dish] look good.”

Just like his interests, Chae holds his share of contradictions: He likes the 2016 pop song “Die For You” by The Weeknd and simultaneously enjoys “Dream a Little Dream of Me” sang by Ella Fitzgerald in 1956; meanwhile, Chae likes cream pasta and fried rice. And just like the music stand, Chae’s future stands wide open. 

“Music and cooking both have the enjoyment of finishing a project and being content with it. The end product is so satisfying for me with both activities,” Chae said. “Both of them need practice and hard work, two things that I think are the most important aspects of improving at anything.”

By Landon Park, Online editor-in-chief
Photo courtesy of Anthony Chae