Student Spotlight: Sean McCarty

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Sean Mccarthy, a junior at CHS, has recently been selected to play bass trombone in three prestigious groups: The Region Symphonic band, the All State Wind Ensemble and Region Jazz Band. I got a chance to meet with Sean and ask him some questions about his musical history and his overall thoughts on being inducted into these three elite groups.

Jack Kimber: What first made you want to start playing music? And when did you start playing?

Sean Mccarty: I think what first made me want to play music was when I saw a parade band on the 4th of July marching in the parade in downtown Chatham. I was probably around 6 or 7 years old. That's what got me interested in playing a brass instrument in the first place. I saw the trombones and I thought that they were just incredible. I started playing trombone in the Lafayette School band in 4th grade, so at about 9 years old I started playing.

JK: In Kat Issa's short film Split, you and Alex Stuart wrote a piece that was featured as the main music throughout the film. Do you compose your own music? If so, can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

SM: Yeah, Stu (Alex Stuart) and I wrote a couple of original songs for Kat's short film "Split". After seeing how well written Kat's script was, the pressure on making type of music that needed to go along with it felt like a lot of pressure at first but as I kept reading it I got the general vibe of the film and after hours and hours of playing around on the bass I came across this one melody that sounded perfect for it and I just instantly knew what type of music would accompany the brilliant script. Stu had already had a couple songs prepared from some of his own incredible individual compositions. He really deserves a huge congrats because he was the one who did all the sound engineering and editing of the music to make it fit so well.

JK: Apart from the school’s band, do you play any other instruments?

SM: Besides playing Euphonium/Baritone in the Wind Ensemble here at the high school, I also play trombone in the marching band, bass guitar with my friends (Scheme and the Schmos) and bass trombone in the school's jazz band and various other bands throughout New Jersey.

JK: Can you tell us a bit about your achievement in making the Region Symphonic band, the All State Wind Ensemble and Region Jazz Band? What it is like to not only reach one prestigious ensemble but three?

SM: I auditioned for Region Band back in early January. The Region Band is basically the 7 counties furthest north in New Jersey. I didn't really think I had a shot of making it due to an injury before the winter break but ended up getting the 2nd best score of the bass trombones that auditioned, placing me in the symphonic band. Successfully auditioning into the Region Band allowed me to qualify for the All-State auditions in February. At that audition I received the highest rating for bass trombone in the state of New Jersey placing me in the All-State Wind Ensemble. Both the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble were incredible because I was able to work with some of the best college conductors in the country like Dr. Courtney Snyder from the University of Michigan or Dr. Alan McMurray from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Finally and most recently I auditioned for the Region Jazz Band and am currently the bass trombone player in the Senior Jazz Ensemble. Qualifying for the Region Jazz Band has also allowed me to audition for the All-State Jazz Band auditions in May. Being a part of the three ensembles has not been anything like I have ever experienced in any band here in Chatham. The dedication of all the musicians there really pushes me to play to the best of my ability and I'm so honored to get to work with some of the best young musicians, band directors and conductors in not only the state but the country.

JK: What do you do with each of these ensembles? There must be a lot of preparation involved to be apart of each one.

SM: Each of the ensembles have 3 or 4 rehearsals and 1 concert. The region Symphonic Band had two 5 hour rehearsals and another two 6 hour rehearsals along with the concert. The All-State Wind Ensemble was very cool because I actually got to sleep at a hotel for 2 nights and rehearse for anywhere from 8 to 13 hours a day at Rutgers University and perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Performing at NJPAC alone was a mind blowing experience just due to how huge the concert hall was. The Region Jazz Band has had one 4 hour rehearsal and will be having three more 4 hour rehearsals over the upcoming Spring Break. All 3 ensembles require each player to learn their part on their own time and the rehearsals are essentially where we all just put our parts together.

JK: With all of your own success in band, is there any advice you would give to any underclassmen looking to be where you are now?

SM: If there is any advice I could give to an underclassmen or any young musician it would be to participate in as many bands as you can because nothing pushes you more than listening to other musicians around you. I also encourage all young musicians to appreciate that every note they play, they are getting better.

JK: Any plans to continue band/music in college?

SM: I plan to major in music in college because I really could not see myself doing anything else with my life after high school but play music.