The Oracle: What is your inspiration when you play trumpet?
Ryan Araghi: When I play, my goal is to really just make the best sound I possibly can. I want to make both my listeners and myself happy. My inspiration is to come to a new state of mind—if I’m sad, or if I’m happy—it’s just a kind of rebirth to start thinking again. If I’m stuck on a problem, no matter what it is, if I take a break from it and start playing trumpet, it really helps me start to think again. Then, when I come back to the problem, it’s normally a lot easier to find a solution, whether it’s emotional or physical.
TO: What are you currently doing for trumpet?
RA: I’m currently preparing for the ABRSM [Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music] tests. Once you pass the eighth level, you receive two diplomas. The diplomas look extremely good on college resumes or even job applications. I’m planning on getting both diplomas before I finish high school because according to my trumpet teacher, the second diploma is counted as a minor in college for trumpet-playing. I’m currently getting ready to take the eighth exam.
TO: Over the years, how has trumpet helped you grow as a person?
RA: Trumpet has taught me two important qualities: to really control my emotions and to be disciplined. There have been many times where I’ve wanted to just give up, but I had to push through and just finish what I started. There are many hard things that I have had to overcome, but playing trumpet has taught me that nothing in life comes easy, and that if you really want something you can do it.
TO: What are your future trumpet plans?
RA: In the future I’m planning to at least minor in music in college. I may double major in music and medicine instead, however. After college I plan to just play with whoever I can. Maybe I’ll join an orchestra or symphony if I have time. Maybe I’ll also do gigs with friends or anyone else; that would be a lot of fun. Trumpet won’t be a main focus of mine in the future because from what I’ve heard, making it big as a trumpet player is really hard. It’s all or nothing, really. So I’d rather have something else to sustain myself. But I’ll have a lot of trumpet things on the side.
TO: What is your favorite type of trumpet music to play?
RA: I like to play pieces from the Romantic Era, particularly during Tchaikovsky’s time. My favorite pieces are written by composers such as Rubinstein, Albinoni, Arutunian—they are great composers. I like to play them because they are very emotional, and they have very dynamic contrasts, from outstanding louds to the smallest softs of pianos.
TO: How have the Gunn Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band helped you in your trumpet endeavors?
RA: I have learned how to especially improvise in jazz because at the beginning of this year I had no clue how to improv and now I still do not have much of a clue but I have a better clue! I can actually play an okay solo now during a piece. The Gunn Wind Ensemble has helped me learn how to blend in with a big trumpet section. Normally I only play with three other trumpet players but in Wind Ensemble I’ve had to play with five, so it’s a lot harder to blend.
TO: What constitutes a good composer or player?
RA: A good piece is when the composer has taken all his emotions that have been bundled up for many years, such as Tchaikovsky who was secretly homosexual and condemned by the Catholic church. It’s when those composers take those emotions, harness them, and put them into writing the music—that really makes a great piece because all the composer’s emotions are poured out into one piece of music and you can just feel what the composer is feeling when you play it.
The same goes for musicians—if you can feel what the musician is feeling when they play, and if they bring their emotions into the piece, they really can capture everything that they’re thinking and share it with the audience. That is what makes a good musician, because they can make you feel different emotions even when they play simple notes of music.
TO: How long have you been playing and why did you begin?
RA: I have been playing trumpet for six years. I originally started playing drums in second grade, but later my brother told me I couldn’t play drums in middle school while I was a fourth grader, which was a lie, I guess. But because of that I chose a different instrument and started playing trumpet. Since then I’ve actually been really happy playing trumpet as it’s a more melodic instrument so it fits my personality better. I think I chose the trumpet because I felt it would be a refreshing change from drums, but I found out later that I really enjoyed it.
—Compiled by Kathleen Xue