Musicians of the Issue

Mirador explores three students who hold the power of sound in the palm of their hands

Ian Woods, Drummer Extraordinaire

In sixth grade, most students are struggling to form their own identities, while testing out different hobbies. However, Miramonte junior Ian Woods spent his middle school years playing shows in San Francisco bars with his band.

“That was really weird then, but pretty funny now, since I was about two feet shorter than everyone else in there,” said Woods. “They initially wouldn’t let me in, or believe that I was playing in the band.”

His former band, The Diplomats, consisted of his brother, Miramonte alum Conor Woods ‘08, and Peter Kegler ‘08.

Woods began drumming at seven and has been playing ever since. He began playing in The Diplomats when he was 11, and the band continued until two years ago when Conor Woods and Kegler left for college. Since then, Woods has been playing by himself.

“Playing in a band and playing challenging music that I really enjoy would be great, but that just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen at Miramonte,” said Woods.
Woods has experienced firsthand the difference between creating your own material as opposed to copying and being influenced by other songs. He noticed The Diplomats beginning to do this before his band mates went to college.

“The songs started getting really formulaic,” said Woods. “I specifically remember one that we played, which my brother wrote, that sounded like every one of his favorite songs thrown into one.”

Woods’ main influences are The Mars Volta, Fela Kuti, and Don Ellis.

Ellis spent time in India and incorporated Indian elements into his jazz music. These elements include notes between sharps and flats, which American listeners aren’t used to hearing.

“Most people would listen to this music and think ‘what the hell is this racket,’ but they’re real notes,” said Woods.

Woods enjoys an alternative taste in music and aims to be an active listener. In fact, much of his taste derives from his own goals as a drummer.

“The Tower of Power’s drummer is really incredible,” said Woods. “But I only like their album East Bay Grease, because later they started playing more R&B than funk. I don’t want to listen to them sing about problems with their girlfriends.”

As far as pursuing a career in music, Woods still remains unsure. He recognnizes the competitiveness of the music industry and for now becoming a professional drummer seems unrealistic.
“I don’t want to be a part of the starving musician stereotype,” said Woods.

For now, filling his free time with hours of drum practice is enough. Although his future plans are undetermined, his talent is apparent to all who watch him perform.

Rose Abramson and Erin Walsh, Jazzy

Rose Abramson and Erin Walsh are part of an elite group that arrives at school before 7:00 a.m. for zero period for jazz band. While some students would regard this as torture, for Abramson and Walsh it is a privilege.

Abramson has pursued saxophone since the age of nine, and listens to an eclectic mix of music. Her taste includes the standard teenage rock music, but also envelopes different genres specific to her talents. She listens to jazz and classical Russian composers, such as Tchaikovsky, who inspires her as a saxophonist.

Walsh has been playing bass clarinet since fourth grade, or nearly eight and a half years. Along with this, she taught herself to play soprano saxophone this year and played string bass at OIS.
She enjoys a wide genre of music, ranging from hip-hop to country. Yet her musical prowess appears in her love for the Big Band Era.

In her freshman year, Abramson played in the both the symphonic and jazz bands.

“The symphonic band mostly combines classical music and technique,” said Abramson. “Jazz Band gives us a chance to loosen up and play more diverse songs. Plus, the band is much smaller, so we are tightly bonded.”

Walsh loves the opportunities that Jazz Band has brought her.

“Jazz Band is such a great experience; the music is challenging and fun at the same time,” said Walsh. “I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this group.”

The Jazz Band consists of drums, guitar, bass guitar, an alto, soprano and tenor saxophone, a piano, and a trombone.

The members include Walsh and Abramson, as well as seniors Sarah Taylor, Megan Newton, Adrienne Parker, Dylan Woods and freshmen Bryant Chow, Reese Levine, Philip Hoxie and Thomas Kunkle.

Due to budget cuts, there was no Jazz Band last year. It is unclear what is in store for the band next year.

“We’ll just keep forging on,” said Jazz Band teacher John Maltester.

Last year the Symphonic Band traveled to Anaheim to participate in the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association.

Along with the accomplishments of Jazz Band, Walsh has many personal achievements.

These include being a part of the California All State Honor Band for six consecutive years (see pg. 2), the All-Northern State Honor Band for three years, with a 2009 First Chair/Concert Mistress recognition.

She also participated in the Contra Costa Honor Band for four years, and the California Music Educators Association (CMEA) and CMEA state solo festivals where she won the Superior/Command Performances, the highest rating.

Before this, Walsh embarked on the Young Artist’s Symphony Orchestra (YASO) Mid-European Concert Tour in 2006, and was a part of Diablo Wind Symphony from 2005-2006.

“I definitely want to do something music related in my life,” said Walsh.

Abramson agrees, as both know they want to incorporate their love and talent for music in to their futures, but whether they will pursue a career in the field remains to be seen.