To take up the playing of an instrument and to do it well means practice and lots of it. An eighth grader at East Lincoln Middle School, Pierson Rickard, auditioned and made his way to the seventh chair trombone in the 2021 North Carolina All State Honors Band.
Rickard started out his musical career on the piano and decided that he wanted to be a band member like his older brother but admitted that his decision was also influenced by band memes which he found entertaining.
During an instrument try out, Jennifer Beck, the East Lincoln Middle School band teacher, handed Rickard a mouthpiece for a trombone to see how he liked it.
“He made a good sound, and we went from there,” she said. “Now I do Tic Toc videos to recruit fifth graders. We did a Tic Toc challenge, ‘choose your character,’ but it’s all band instruments. That was a really big seller this year. As of right now, I have 75 beginners signed up for next year. That’s the largest group that I’ve had since coming here three years ago.”
In band class, Rickard was very attentive and willing to try new things, so last year, Beck asked him and a few of the more promising seventh graders if they’d be interested in joining the high school marching band playing. Rickard agreed which improved his skills further. Trombone isn’t an instrument that’s part of the marching band so Rickard plays the baritone.
As a seventh grader, Rickard tried out for the North Carolina All District Band, but did not place high enough to make it. With that experience under his belt, Rickard practiced more and improved his skills. Even though this past year was spent predominately in remote learning, Rickard mastered virtual auditions and clinics throughout the year.
This year, Rickard made it to third chair trombone in the regionals and then was selected to audition to all state and made it to seventh chair.
“While virtual auditions meant that they could record and re-record their performances, because of that, it weeded out those who may not have been quite as good,” Beck said. “There were between 20 or 30 trombonists who applied across the state and Pierson ended up seventh.”
He started taking lessons with Dr. Ian McCollum at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the fall and has also been involved in the high school marching band, jazz band, and theater department performances. He also participates in the Lincoln Theatre Guild.
“I really like the slide of the trombone,” Rickard said. “Classical music is my favorite. I hope to do a music summer camp and play professionally one day.”
Playing with a band gives Rickard a great feeling of pride and would like to encourage others to play an instrument.
“If you don’t get it right away, keep trying, you’ll get it,” he said.