Podcast: SCSBOA interview with Andrei Dimaano
Freshman Andrei Dimaano, a member of the SCSBOA honor band, shares his experience for being a part of the band with staff writer Phillip Leung.
Leung: What is SCSBOA?
Dimaano: SCSBOA stands for the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association. They provide and sponsor a lot of services that help nourish musicians and help them develop and grow their musicality.
Leung: What do you do in the band?
Dimaano: For me, I’m in the All Southern Honor Groups, and that’s something that SCSBOA sponsors. You audition for the All Southern Honor Groups, and you get to play with an orchestra or band. It’s basically the top players of Southern California all in one group.
Leung: When does the application process take place, and how do you qualify?
Dimaano: To get into the All Southern Honor Bands, there’s an auditioning process you have to go through. It started around probably last year November, and you fill out an application. You get it signed by your band directors or your private teachers, and then the audition took place, for me, December 12. You have to prepare solo pieces, and you also have some sight reading to do in front of musical adjudicators. They judge whether you’re qualified enough to be in one of the high school honor groups.
Leung: Do you know what some of the qualifications would be?
Dimaano: It’s basically like a grading scale. They test you on your technicality in your instrument, and they also test how passionate you are. You don’t want someone with bad attitude in honor group because that just ruins the whole experience. They also test your musicianship and how well you actually know music.
Leung: Take me back to the first two seconds you were notified you made the honor band. What was going through your mind?
Dimaano: I was notified by my friends, and they were just in all caps in text messages. They said, “You made the high school honor group wind ensemble,” which is a really big deal because I’m a freshman. As a percussionist, wind ensemble is probably one of the toughest groups to get into. I was really surprised since my audition wasn’t as stellar as I wanted it to be. When I had realized I was in wind ensemble, I couldn’t really think. I thought it was a joke. When I actually did find out it was true, I told my parents, and they were really proud of me. That whole day I was just really stoked about it. There was nothing on my mind except that I had made wind ensemble.
Leung: What motivated you to become a member of this group or try out for it?
Dimaano: SCSBOA, it’s a really high praise if you ever get in, and the college administrators like to take who made All Southern Honor Groups for this year. They really look into that because it’s a highly honored group. The experience of All Southern Honor Band is just one of the most enjoyable experiences I had because meeting people who are just as passionate as you are in music makes you want to play more music. Everyone has the same goal, everyone wants to get better in their musicality, and it really helps you develop and grow as a musician.
Leung: How many years have you been part of the music program in middle school and high school?
Dimaano: I started playing percussion in sixth grade, so I’ve been playing for three and a half years. I had no musical background up to that point, and none of my parents had any musical experiences, so it was something really new to me.
Leung: In what ways has your experience in the Walnut High School music program helped you in the application process?
Dimaano: The directors really gave me a chance to perfect my skill in my solo pieces. Dr. Clements helped me out a lot with sight reading, which is one of the technical parts of auditioning, and it’s one of the things the adjudicators look into. He helped me a lot. Mr. Wicks really just motivated me, and he kept helping me out.
Leung: How did Mr. Wicks motivate you?
Dimaano: When he realized I’ve been doing All Southern for two years, he said I was a really good player. It kind of boosted my confidence, and I really wanted to make it into All Southern this year so that I didn’t let anyone down. I was spending so much time on it, and I didn’t want all this time for nothing.
Leung: During the audition, what was going through your mind?
Dimaano: The audition was really scary. I was really nervous since you know you’re performing in front of people. I personally knew the judges from my middle school experiences. Knowing that they knew my ability and that they’re going to be more critical on how I played (because they know me from past experience) was really scary. I realized that they made the audition really chill because they just gave you tips and pointers on how to improve your play. For me, I wasn’t nervous because I was getting judged; I was more nervous of messing up.
Leung: About what were you nervous of messing up?
Dimaano: One of the judges is one of my musical teachers, and so she gave me the music a long time before most people were able to get a hand on it. Knowing that she knows I had the music for a while, I was kind of scared. I needed to be perfect, otherwise she might be disappointed, and that’s what I didn’t really want.
Leung: As a member of this honor group, how do you feel about the group’s ability to play and their standards?
Dimaano: This is a really high-standard group, and everyone knows how to play well. What really sets this group apart from your average high school group is that everyone is passionate. Everyone wants to get better, and everyone is motivated. It’s really satisfactory knowing that you’re going to take these notes off the page, and you’re going to create a little story through your instrument. Everyone knows how to play, but that fact that everyone is trying to get better is what sets it apart from high school.
Photo by Sajid Iqbal