February Musician of the Month: Nathan Combs

Nathan Combs.

Q: Which band(s) are you in, and how long have you been in each band?

A: I’ve been involved in jazz two for three years, wind ensemble for one year, symphonic band for three years, concert band for one year, and pep band for two years.

Q: What instrument(s) do you play in each band? How long have you been playing it?

A: For pep band, wind ensemble, symphonic band, jazz two, and concert band I play flute for all of them. And I’ve been playing the flute for eight years. For jazz two as well as playing the flute I also play the alto sax, and I have played that for five years. 

Q: Do you plan to continue to play in a band during college? Do you plan to make it a career?

A: I plan to make band a part of my career going into music education in my future.

Q: Have you auditioned for any extra bands, or all state bands? Would you recommend auditioning to extra bands to others, and why?

A: I’ve auditioned for the Iowa All State Band, Drake Honor Band, Iowa State Honor Band, and SCIBA Honor Band. I was accepted into the Drake Honor Band. I also auditioned for all of these on flute. I would recommend auditioning for extra bands, because it gives you a chance to practice difficult music, learn new skills that you might’ve not even come across if you didn’t try those pieces, and it gets you out of your comfort zone so that  you can try more pieces you’re unfamiliar with.

Q: What was the most challenging part of your band experience with any ensemble you are in? Whether it’s about the stress or the musical skill it takes to play the pieces.

A: The most challenging experience has to be in wind ensemble. Earlier this year for our winter concert when I was playing the piece “The Most Wonderful Christmas,” I was trying to figure out how my solo worked. I was trying to figure out when I should come in, and prevent my hands from shaking from getting frustrated.

Q: Which ensemble do you like better, why? Which do you think is more challenging, why (this can be music wise, technique wise, or practice wise)?

A: I prefer jazz two mainly because of the amount of experimentation that I get to do during jazz solos and figuring out how to fit my volume into such a small band. And of course how loud I need to be when I need to be, because again it’s a small band. Jazz also gives me rhythm practice which I don’t get in other bands, so it’s exciting to have a new skill.

Q: How do you think your music experience will help you in your future?

A: It will probably help me most in having the disciple to practice, and that if I want to get good at something I have to spend time outside of what I’m doing to put in the work to make it what I want it to be.

Q: Why have you stayed in the symphonic band, and wind ensemble all these years? What do you enjoy about it?

A: I stayed in the symphonic band for the people and the feeling of just being able to play and make music. Wind ensemble is when I enjoy the challenge of playing a fast piece, and the satisfaction of getting it accomplished in time. I stay in that almost entirely because of the pieces that we have, the people, and Meunier. It pushes me to be a much better musician than I would have otherwise.

Q: How many hours a week do you spend practicing for either band?

A: 4-6 hours a week. On Saturdays, I usually spend three hours straight.

Q: Any advice for new musicians?

A: If you have even the thought that you might want to join a new band, join it. Commit yourself to joining it and then figure out how to work it into your schedule afterwards, because you will get something from the experience no matter what, especially if you want to be a musician.