Trumpeter earns spot in prestigious All-National Honor Ensemble

November 21, 2020 — by Vicky Bai and Andrew Li

After submitting his video audition to the national band in May, junior Yoshiki Shimokawa did not feel confident about getting accepted to the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) All-National Honor Ensemble considering that he was competing among the top players from All-State band. 

However, when results came out in August, he was surprised to see his name under the Trumpet 1 section, which has four members.

Shimokawa said he did not expect to get accepted into the national band, as there were around 16 people above him in the All-State Band. Even so, he was pleasantly surprised by the news, and is grateful to be able to represent California in the prestigious national band. 

Shimokawa said that he believes being a part of the national band will be one of the highlights of his high school band career, especially since he is the first wind player from the school to join it. 

“I had to go against the very best in the nation to get into nationals,” Shimokawa said, “so getting in is already a huge accomplishment. Even then, I got in as Trumpet 1, so I’m pretty much guaranteed [to be a top-four trumpet player in the national band].” 

Shimokawa first started playing the trumpet in fifth grade. At the time, Shimokawa said that he was “one of the worst players” in the band. He only stayed because he thought the music they were playing was fun. 

Shimokawa said he continued to grow from sixth grade onwards, finally becoming a serious trumpet player in eight grade. Now in his junior year, Shimokawa has been in band for seven years and plans to major in music in college. 

“Yoshiki is one of the hardest working band members we’ve had. He is always practicing and sets high goals for himself,” said Jason Shiuan, his current band director who has known Shimokawa ever since Shimokawa was an eighth grader. “I never have to push him because he is always pushing himself.”

Ultimately, Shimokawa’s interest in music drove him to audition for the national band. To be eligible, applicants had to already be in the exclusive All-State band, which Shimokawa joined just last November, making the national band even harder to get into.

“Many people from All-State band auditioned for the national band, but it is super competitive and only the top players get chosen,” Shimokawa said. 

Applicants were required to submit recordings of them playing an excerpt from a concerto and a few chromatic scales. 

This year, the program will be formatted differently from a normal year. Typically, the national band would meet in November in Florida to work on pieces with selected conductors and other musicians. However, the program has gone virtual and is instead meeting for three continuous days from Jan. 7-9 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to go through the music they plan to play together and for musicians to meet their sections. Shimokawa will then submit recordings for his music part which will be merged by professional editors to replicate a band.

Shiuan said that he was proud of Shimokawa’s dedication, and was glad that his hard work paid off.

“He absolutely deserves it. The fact that he thinks he doesn’t deserve it is a testament to his character and how humble he is,” Shiuan said.