The Summer Stepping Stone

Jarod Lau. Photograph by Tyler Hayford.

By Jarod Lau

My experience with Summer@Eastman will forever be the most significant cornerstone in my life. It all began in the summer of 2013, when I attended Summer@Eastman’s Summer Jazz Studies and Summer Trumpet Institute. The experiences I had and the opportunities I gained were invaluable to my development as a musician, and without them I would not be where I am today. Summer@Eastman opened so many doors, and I am excited to share my story.

As a developing high school trumpet player, I was continuously looking into new ways to better my musical abilities, as well as have fun making music with others who shared similar goals. I was referred to Eastman’s summer programs after I took an audition for the Eastman Community School of Music’s Youth Jazz Orchestra. The director at the time, Dr. Howard Potter, recommended me to Summer Jazz Studies so I could improve my playing in preparation for the Youth Orchestra the following fall. The thought of spending two weeks working with Eastman faculty while meeting and playing with high level high school musicians thrilled me: it would provide me an opportunity like nothing before. In addition to the jazz institute, I also registered for the Summer Trumpet Institute as well.

Photograph by Steve Lau

Both were such transformative experiences. I made countless new friends who shared the same excitement and passion for musical art, and it was truly a blessing to be able to study, practice, and perform together. Every day I was inspired by my peers to learn more and to keep working hard; everyone brought their own unique skillset and knowledge, which made for a dynamic and exciting learning environment. It was a wonderfully new experience to be surrounded by these incredibly talented students, and the motivation to continually improve remained constant outside of the institute. Summer@Eastman propelled me through the academic year and I was excited to return.

My experiences participating in these summer programs yielded great improvements; my participation in the Summer Trumpet Institute in 2013 was the most important one of them all. The institute was a weeklong program that focused on trumpet fundamentals and gave participants several opportunities to perform. At this program, I was fortunate enough to meet the two trumpeters who would later become my regular private teachers. At the end of the week Mr. Wesley Nance offered me a place in his private studio, where I could study with him to take my playing to the next level. Under his guidance I improved greatly and had many successes throughout the rest of my high school years. I would eventually audition and be accepted into the Eastman School of Music. The second of the two trumpet teachers from the institute would actually become my primary trumpet professor at the Eastman School. It’s crazy to think that one week could lead to several years of incredible opportunities, but that’s the best part.

Jarod and Doug Prosser. Photograph by Steve Lau

To this day I am still in touch with many of my friends from these summer programs, and I even attend the Eastman School of Music with many of them as well. Summer@Eastman helped me build a network across the United States, as well as some connections overseas. So many of the people I met are currently excelling at a variety of skills in so many different disciplines. It was exciting having the opportunity to see where everyone ended up through the college selection process, and to now see some of them excel in the professional world. I am so thankful for my time as a student at Summer@Eastman, it is definitely the single most important aspect of my musical development. It built bridges and opened many doors. The growth from Summer@Eastman never ends, and it continually makes us all ever better.

Jarod is an Eastman School senior, majoring in Trumpet Performance. Jarod also works as Summer@Eastman’s Marketing Assistant intern as part of Eastman’s Arts Leadership Program.