Jasyn Brazoban just completed his junior year at The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush. He’s quiet and friendly, with a sheepish smile. In fact, I don’ think he’s capable of not smiling. He may seem like any other student… until you see him with his trombone. Something happens to Jasyn when the music in his heart hits his hands. The smile disappears when he starts to play. He’s not merely a rising senior; he’s a rising star.
The Magic Trombone
“It’s like you are a different person when your holding that horn,” I said. And I meant it. He’s like a little boy looking for direction who becomes a leader when he touches a magical object. He may as well be carrying Excalibur, the legendary sword of King Arthur, on his way to slay a dragon. I asked him, “Am I onto something, or am I off base?”
“No, I think you’re spot on. I behave a certain way, and dress a certain way, to respect the music. Someone put a lot of effort into creating it, and I want to respect that, to bring it to life.” Like so many All City musicians who see the value of dedicating their time to cultivating their passion, Jasyn is making music everywhere he can. “Ask me to perform anywhere, at any time. Just tell me what I need to play.”
Jasyn doesn’t remember why, but for some reason he set his sights on the trombone from a young age (… maybe because, ‘The wand picks the wizard’?) You might think musicians are born that way: Either you have the magic or you don’t. Fortunately for many aspiring musicians who are afraid they don’t have it, that’s not the way it works.
Welcome to Philadelphia!
Jasyn’s path wasn’t paved with gold. There were no road signs, but there were plenty of diversions on the way to finding his way. He was born in Brooklyn, to parents from Puerto Rico and The Dominican Republic. His mother tragically passed away when he was in kindergarten, and he went to live with his father.
My dad was an avid music listener, and loved music from his culture. I think it was mainly because of his love for music as a listener that I began to create a passion for music on my own as a listener and performer.
Jasyn had hoped to begin playing the trombone as early as third grade, but his family moved around a bit, in New York and then in Philadelphia. It wasn’t until he ended up at J.H. Brown Elementary School that the opportunity became a reality. At first he didn’t even know there was a music program at his new school, but he still had that third grader’s dream in mind, so he tracked down the music teacher to ask if he could play the trombone.
Darren Lynch remembers that day:
Jasyn sought me out as a fifth grader. He asked me if he could play the Trombone. I asked him if he even knew what a trombone was. Most young kids don’t want to carry such a large instrument. Jasyn knew from day one that the trombone was going to be his instrument. I am so proud to see the musician he has become, and I know he has a bight future ahead of him.
Back on Track
Jasyn finally picked up the trombone in sixth grade.
Mr Lynch was a great teacher for new kids. He was very serious when it came to music, but very enthusiastic about keeping kids involved and wanting us to progress more on our instruments. I think that was the main reason why I stuck with the trombone when I started it. I think it’s very easy for a student starting an instrument to find it very hard at first, and just be like… ‘Ah, this is not worth my time’, and stop. That wasn’t case for me. Mr. Lynch really pushed us, and he made it interesting.
He continued playing at Austin Meehan Middle School, where he was encouraged to audition for the All City Middle School Band. That was a surprise for him in a number of ways: He’d never heard of ‘All City’, didn’t know how to audition, and didn’t understand what ‘seating’ was. He was just happy to be playing.
The following year, my CIMT [community instrumental music teacher] was Nicole Thomson. I really enjoyed being with her, because she made learning music fun. It was really cool with her, and that was the year when I got bumped up to second trombone. And it started to make sense. If you’re better, you get moved up toward the front. Then it’s toward the end of the year, and she’s presenting me the music for the All City High School audition.”
Thanks to his own persistence, and some great teachers, Jasyn was back on track, but he hit a roadblock in ninth grade. He was not accepted to any of the select schools to which he applied. “I had terrible attendance… yeah, I had a lot of latenesses.” When he got to high school, he already knew he wanted to transfer. He knew he had to do better, and that he could get into a better school.
So, I made sure I got great grades, and I spent a lot of time being on time. It was mainly because of the trombone that my motivation continued. I really wanted to get into an arts school. Rush was my number one choice. So, when I got to high school, I spoke with my music teacher, Josh Anderson, and I told him that I wanted to put together an audition. He was very supportive, and really helped me.
That year I practiced so much. I would get home and practice every day. My teachers told me that there weren’t many trombones there, and that if I could make it academically, I would probably be accepted. I said, I’m not taking my chances. I’m going to practice really hard. It was a very good outcome for me. I advanced a lot and did very well on the audition.
Working Hard, Playing Hard
Since transferring to Rush, Jasyn has been playing everywhere he can. In addition to school ensembles, he began taking lessons at Temple University’s Community Music Scholars Program (CMSP), where he in the band and the jazz orchestra. He also plays in the UArts Regional Philadelphia High School All-Star Jazz Band, and of course, the Philadelphia School District’s All City Concert Band, All City Orchestra and All City Jazz Orchestra.
Jasyn’s love of music has taken him all over the city and beyond. He also auditioned and was accepted to the El Sistema-based National Take a Stand Orchestra: Youth Orchestra of the East, sponsored by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, held at Bard College in Upstate New York, where he played principle trombone. The All City process has prepared Jasyn to audition anywhere, but he loves Philadelphia, where hopes to study music education at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, or at the University of the Arts. He’s got the grades. And he’ll be on time.