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Casey Tran ,a euphonium player, who plays this weekend with the 2017 All-State Symphonic Band at the annual California All-State Music Education Conference in San Jose

Katella High School band director Dylan Harlan, who has been working hard to rebuild the school's neglected music program over the past two years, holds up Casey Tran as one of its success stories. Since joining the band, Tran, a euphonium player, not only earned a full scholarship to play with the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, based in Concord, but has been accepted into the 2016-17 Anaheim Union High School District Honor Band and the 2017 All-Southern California Symphonic Band. He plays this weekend with the 2017 All-State Symphonic Band at the annual California All-State Music Education Conference in San Jose.

Name: Casey Tran

School: Katella High School

Grade: 12

Hometown: Anaheim

What instruments do you play? Euphonium, trombone

Tell us about your experience with the honor bands and the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps. I’ve played as the principal euphonium for all of the honor ensembles with the exception of All State because there is a re-audition process the week of the concert for chair placement. My experience in these ensembles has felt both foreign and welcoming as the groups were built of the best musicians from different music programs. I also have had the pleasure to have been a part of Drum Corps International (a private extracurricular marching band organization) starting at Pacific Crest in Diamond Bar in 2015 as a lead baritone, then to the Blue Knights of Denver in 2016 playing third baritone, and now as a Concord Blue Devils A euphonium for the 2017 season. It took some time to get where I was because there are times where you won’t be accepted, but you have to pick yourself up and take it as motivation to become a better performer instead of dwelling on the past.

How did you get involved in music? My brother, Victor, has been in music since junior high and aged out of the Blue Devils A Corps in 2016. He now pursues music education at Cal State Fullerton. Because of him, I made the decision to be in band my eighth-grade year. From there, I learned both the recorder and euphonium at South Junior High School in both beginning and advanced band, and I transferred to Katella High School playing both euphonium and trombone. Today, I’m very grateful about making the decision to involve myself in the music world because I know many people who have become some of my closest friends, and most importantly, I hold a strong bond with my brother.

What is your favorite piece of music? Who is your favorite artist of all time and why? My favorite piece of music would be Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria.” It is the primary song for Pacific Crest, and I have lost count of how many times the piece has brought me to tears, whether for joy or sorrow. My favorite artist would be Snarky Puppy. Their style to me is just catchy and groovy to the point that I can listen to them almost every day.

Who have been your influences? Did you have a mentor in your development as a musician? If so, how did they help you? My influence was definitely my brother, Victor, as I can hear him practicing in his bedroom next door to mine with frustration but also with persistence. He helped me during my first audition into South Junior High School’s advanced band, and he more recently assisted me with my Blue Devils audition both musically and visually. In my years of playing euphonium, I have never had an official private teacher who helps me. I learned mostly by listening to recordings of others and matching how they sound.

What inspires you? I am inspired by any high-level execution of performance. I feel any professional level performance, whether it may be the Blue Devils 2010 or the LA Philharmonic, can inspire me to become a better version of myself every day because they remind me of how precise and beautiful music (and visuals) can and has to be made.

The next challenge I want to take on is … I want to be able to perform and teach at a high level. I don’t get many opportunities to play magnificent pieces of work, which is why I practice to be able to play difficult pieces later on. And I meet many intelligent educators that give information that quickly makes one person or the full ensemble sound better.

Other than music, are you involved in any other activities? If yes, what are they? I really am not a part of other activities, as music takes up most of my schedule. If I had the time, I would want to learn ballet and modern dance, as it’s a performing art I had to learn for the Blue Devils, and I am left speechless with some things dancers are able to pull off.

How do the arts figure in to your long-term goals? At the end of the day, music changed my life for the better, and since it’s shaped so much of my life, I feel that I must give back to music. Music has given me countless traits as I became a more confident and expressive individual because of it. Looking into the future, I plan on majoring in music education to create an environment with students who are competitive, yet they show kindness and respect to others to represent their program with pride and positivity.

What is the best advice you have received? The best advice I’ve received was just a simple comment that my baritone tech from Pacific Crest, Chris McCoy, gave me. All he said was that I was a great player and that I should not stop playing. Before that, I thought I wasn’t a very strong member in the ensemble, but it was that acknowledgement which made me think (that maybe) I was too harsh on myself. It encouraged me to move forward and show others my potential later on in life.

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