201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832


201 E Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832



Section leader admires freshman flute players
Photo by Evelyn Ishikawa
Evelyn takes a picture with her flute section during a marching band clinic. From left to right, junior Devyn Jacobo, senior Hannah Day, freshman Emily Ito, freshman Katelyn Rodriguez, and freshman Audrey Chappell. After two years from having about 2-3 flute players Evelyn feels exceedingly happy that she can lead 5 other flutists.

I play the flute. In fact, I’m in charge of all the flute players in the FUHS Instrumental Music Program. As section leader I make sure my three freshmen and two upperclassmen are on the right page and play the right notes. And on Dec. 8 I realized something; wow, these three freshmen are so good. Like, way much better than I was.

The FUHS Concert Band performed on Dec. 8 in the Auditorium. Flute Section Leader Evelyn Ishikawa is particularly impressed with the 19 new freshmen this year.

Our band director, Troy Trimble, handed us the concert sheet music that we would be playing for the concert, “A Home Alone Christmas”. It had a bunch of musical themes from the hit Home Alone sequel. It was our hardest piece. 

When I was struggling through the flurry of notes that John Williams blessed us with, I looked over to see how they were holding up. I gave freshmen Audrey Chappell and Katelyn Rodriguez the first parts because I knew they were capable of doing them. 

I peeked at their parts and noticed that for the theme “Somewhere in my Memory” there was an option to go an octave up, to play the highest C. Like, the highest note a flute can play. 

I turned to them and in my very kind leader voice I reassured them that they didn’t have to play that crazy high note. I granted them the option of keeping it at the lower octave. Instead of agreeing with me about the craziness of that note, they reassured me back, “No. We’re good. We can play it.” 

And they could. When Mr. Trimble conducted us through the piece for the first time, I heard that C loud and clear. Sure, it was a little wobbly but could be fixed with time. 

I was stunned. This was a note I couldn’t even play and here these two freshmen were playing it with ease. 

The pattern repeated with the same piece of music but with the theme “Merry Christmas Merry Christmas”. While the section looked easy range wise, the speed was another beast. It was in cut time. Which means in simple terms, cuts notes in half, a whole note which normally has four counts now has only two. 

This section was the product of a lot of frustrated groans and I even jokingly pretended to rip the music in half as I tried to get the flurry of eighth notes under my fingers. 

I was not meant to perform alone. I needed to be with a section of people who shared the same instrument I did so we could play together. Instead, I was alone in my room, playing to my stuffed animals. 

While I struggled up to the concert Audrey and Katelyn perfected it at a much faster speed than I was. 

What was going on? Why were the freshmen so good this year? Audrey and Katelyn aren’t an isolated incident. This is something I have seen throughout the semester, the freshmen in band knew what they were doing. 

Why were they playing so well? Was it that they were just good for freshmen and I was just awful when I was their age?

The answer to these questions wasn’t because they were all musical geniuses or that I was a bad player. It was that they had confidence in themselves as musicians and that they were surrounded by other players that made them confident in themselves.

You see, I didn’t have that confidence my freshman year. Because my freshman year I had band practice on Zoom. 

Today’s freshmen band members have the chance to perfect the medley of Home Alone 2. When I was their age, I was literally home alone with my flute. 

Instead of surviving the horrors of band camp, I had to patiently wait until the first day of school to know what I was doing. There were no football games. No halftime shows. No competitions. 

Instead of concerts in an auditorium, Evelyn’s freshman year concerts were online and filmed in the empty white void of her parents’ room. Before every video she would have to stand in silence for 10 seconds. During those 10 seconds she would stand with a miserable face, fully aware of how isolating these performances were. (Photo by Evelyn Ishikawa)

My first year of band was instead whittled down to online concerts, playing tests, and playing in the wee hours of the morning IF my parents didn’t have a meeting during zero period.

Whenever I played alone, I felt a weight of isolation. I was not meant to perform alone. I needed to be with a section of people who shared the same instrument I did so we could play together. Instead, I was alone in my room, playing to my stuffed animals. 

I would practice with the music that Mr. Trimble gave us but there was only so much I could do while alone. I was completely stagnant. I craved being around other people so I could hear their feedback and sound like a group. 

I’m not a music creator. I can’t just mix something together on GarageBand and call it a day. I need to be seated with people who play instruments and play with them. I wasn’t granted that opportunity for most of my freshman year. 

Back to the present, our marching band season this year was radically different even from my junior year. In my junior year we were brought down to Division 1A because of how few people we had, only around 35 members. We were ranking well because we were a large 1A band but other than competitions we sounded empty.  

Evelyn Ishikawa celebrating Senior Night with her parents. While walking through the balloon arch she was finally able to admit to herself that she was finally a senior, and graduating soon. (Photo courtesy of Evelyn Ishikawa)

This year, however, we have around 50 members in the band, bringing us back to Division 2A. Even though we didn’t rank as well as many of us would have liked, we were back to being a larger band. It was back to another growing year but we were growing with a group that was already pretty ahead of the curve. We finally had a fuller sound that many people were overjoyed to hear again.

Being in a band is about having that balance of quality and quantity and we were able to find that balance. The freshmen were confident players and had a great sound, and since there were so many of them this year we were able to set ourselves up for future success. 

As this semester comes to a close with my final marching band season done, I hope to do other activities. I’m grateful that I’m hopefully able to be a part of the pit for the upcoming spring musical. Join honor bands. Perform a solo for my spring concert. And close off my year with my Academy of the Arts performance. 

While I am doing these events, I hope to take a page out of the freshman book and just go for it. Play those super high notes or super fast passages. I hope to be as confident as they are with my playing for the upcoming semester. 

And for my amazing freshmen: You all are spectacular and keep playing with that confidence because you are surrounded by people who will help and support you. I hope being in the band to you is also about the people as much as it’s about the music. We can find our home in music, but, fortunately, we don’t need to play alone.  

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