Jazz trombonist and Chameleon member Reid Christmann ’18 performed as part of the 2017 GRAMMY Big Band, an 18-piece big band comprised of some of the most talented high school jazz musicians in the country. The GRAMMY Foundation paid all expenses for Reid’s trip to Los Angeles, where he performed with GRAMMY winners and nominees at jazz venues and GRAMMY Week events, including the official Post-GRAMMY Celebration. He also recorded an album at the famous Capitol Records and attended the GRAMMY Awards. He was selected out of hundreds of applicants by submitting a YouTube audition. In addition, Reid won Honorable Mention for Trombone at the 2017 Essentially Ellington Competition. In the below video, Justin DiCioccio leads the GRAMMY band in a performance of Don Menza’s “Groovin’ Hard” at the Grammy Foundation in Santa Monica, California.
A Conversation with Reid Christmann ’18
What inspired you to pursue music?
Thanks to my elementary school’s music program, I fell in love with playing music from an early age. Today, my inspiration comes from just that – a love of playing music.
How long have you been playing?
I started piano lessons when I was little, but I didn’t start playing Trombone until the 5th grade. This is now my seventh year playing Trombone and my sixth playing for Newark Academy.
Describe how you felt when you found out you had been accepted into the GRAMMY Big Band.
When I glanced at my phone and saw I was getting a call from Santa Monica, CA, the first thought that popped into my head was “wrong number.” But, when I answered and they asked for my name and told me they were from the GRAMMY Foundation, I was astonished. My heart started to race (and I can only imagine what the actual event will be like!). Not many people understand what the GRAMMY Big Band is, but for me, this is a huge accomplishment that was completely unexpected.
How do you think this experience will help you grow as a musician?
One of the best ways to improve at any activity is to do so with people who are better than you. Of course, practicing is most important, but playing with musicians with more skill than you can inspire you and challenge you in ways working on your own simply can’t. It is impossible to say in what ways I will improve, but what I can say is that I’m ready to learn.
What impact has NA, your peers, faculty members, etc. had on your music?
I have received nothing but support from this fantastic community. The music and arts programs fostered by Newark Academy are outstanding and have done a great service to many students. I am so grateful for Mr. Tolentino and Mrs. Emelianoff, who have molded me into the musician I am today. The continued support from my private teacher, Ben Williams, my friends and family have also been invaluable and helped forge my abilities as a musician.