Longform: Meet the Fulmuzicks

KJazz 88.1 FM it’s the same old jazz radio station that plays while he, his uncle and grandfather discuss the history and background of the song. This is just one of many afternoons that senior Adam Fulmizi recalls, in which music once again unites Fulmizi and his family, whether they listen, play, discuss or teach it.

“Music is always there for us. It’s the one thing that will never disappear or die off,” Fulmizi said.

Their family band, the “Fulmuzicks,” a portmanteau of the last names “Fulmizi” and “Wicks” was formed once his cousin, Dylan, the youngest member learned how to play a wind instrument. The group of eight usually perform during Christmas or during special occasions, such as their family friend’s wedding, the biggest one they’ve done so far.

“It’s really fun. We always get along when we have rehearsals, although we don’t play too many gigs. It’s like half rehearsal, half family fun time since we all enjoy playing so much,” Fulmizi said. “It makes it even better to do it with the family members that we love.”

His dad, brother, uncle (band and orchestra director Corey Wicks) and both grandparents teach music. Though Fulmizi does not see his family often other than annual Christmas vacation gigs, his family of music teachers prompted Fulmizi to appreciate music more, as he started to bring his trumpet home from school on the weekdays to practice, even if it was only for half an hour.

“I am not sure I would even be in music without them. Maybe I would’ve stumbled upon it anyway, but without them I don’t think I would enjoy it as much and it wouldn’t be as personal,” Fulmizi said. “It wouldn’t be the same.”

His family’s passion for music led him to eventually develop one of his own.

It all started when he was eight years old at his grandparents’ music studio in Costa Mesa. Fulmizi’s older brother and his grandfather each had his own studio, with numerous guitars, clarinets and pictures of famous trombone players adorning the baby-blue walls. Fumizi spent time in his grandfather’s room, messing around with the different instruments for around 15 minutes each time while his grandfather watched over him. Fulmizi’s eyes were always drawn to the trumpet’s valves, like buttons to push on a kids toy.

Ever since his first with encounter with the trumpet, Fulmizi chose to commit to the instrument for the rest of his music career. He wanted to stand out from the rest of his family members, who play the trombone, though his younger cousin followed him afterwards. He soon began taking basic trumpet playing lessons with his grandfather at the studio for an hour every week.

“He would only get mad or frustrated when I didn’t practice, and when I was younger, I didn’t practice as much as I was supposed to because I was lazy and I didn’t have an incentive to play,” Fulmizi said. “But when I take a lesson with him every now and then, I really soak in all the information. And after that, I do feel closer to him.”

Though his grandfather has played in professional gigs and recordings when he was younger and had the opportunity to travel with various groups, he decided to stay at home and take care of his family.

“It’s fun because he usually leads our group, or at least runs our rehearsals so we sound the best we can,” Fulmizi said. “He is a professional trombone player, so it’s great to have really good musicians around me all the time.”

Fulmizi’s parents had him test the waters of band starting in elementary and middle school. During his homeschooled band experience in junior high, they rehearsed only once a week and played a few concerts here and there. Though they didn’t perform much, the experience prepared him for a higher level of band in high school.

As a part of the Blue Thunder marching band, Fulmizi’s relationship with his uncle and director Corey Wicks is best described as playful. When asked about his relationship with Fulmizi, Wicks jokingly clarified he was his nephew, not his son, because his kids are “way better looking.”

“It’s really, really awesome. It’s like those teachers that you get to know, and you feel super close with like they are family — that’s how it is, except he actually is family. I know him automatically on a personal level compared to other students, and I can relate to him really well,” Fulmizi said. “It’s funny because he is quite different as an uncle than a director. When he is my uncle, he never really has to criticize anything I do. He just gets to be my funny, lovable uncle Corey.”

Under the direction of his uncle, he has faced four years of drastic changes throughout his band journey. Some transformations include the band room itself during his freshman year, drill instructor changes during his sophomore year and increasing competitiveness of the competitions throughout all the years. His list of experience also includes four continuous years of different styles of music: symphonic orchestra, marching band and jazz band.

“In jazz band especially, the music has gotten more tough, but I’ve also become a better player so I’ve been able to stick up to it,” Fulmizi said. “And I don’t want to say we play less in orchestra, but we play more ‘icing on the cake’ parts instead of playing melodies all the time. Playing trumpet in a symphonic orchestra takes a whole different mindset than playing trumpet in jazz band. It’s good because I am learning different styles of playing.”

Although Fulmizi does not take private lessons from his grandfather anymore and misses the one-on-one experience, he still managed to play first trumpet for jazz band and marching band for three consecutive years until he became a Drum Major this year.

“I stopped taking lessons because I got so busy. But especially when you’re forced to come to school everyday and practice everyday, you just get better by practicing at school. I have to think like, ‘I’ll play a little bit, because playing something is playing better than nothing,’” Fulmizi said.

However, Fulmizi does take one lesson with his grandfather when he has an audition to prepare for, such as the Rose Parade Honor Band’s audition in September. He was chosen along with 32 others out of 90 trumpets to perform in January 2016. It was his uncle who first found out through the website, and the news soon spread among his entire family.

“We were all kind of shocked, relieved and excited, and my grandpa was like, ‘Oh hey, good job!’ Since I hadn’t taken lessons for a long time, he just reminded me of some right techniques for playing which helped me sound better,” Fulmizi said. “I still use the [techniques] he taught me when I was young, and I know I did better because of him.”

Moments like these make Fulmizi consider coming back to Walnut High School to teach music, following in his uncle’s footsteps and carrying on their family legacy of teaching.

“My family has an affect on [my decision]. All of high school, it has been in my mind like, ‘Oh, there’s always music,’ but I didn’t start taking it seriously,” Fulmizi said. “But because of my family, I took it seriously because I realized I actually have a gift in teaching, and I could do something great with it.”

By Olivia Chiang, Feature editor

Photo courtesy of Adam Fulmizi

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