ACG Strathallan student Minho Choi likes nothing better than jamming with his pals. The accomplished musician is an enthusiastic member of five school bands (jazz trio, jazz band, production band, concert band, and rock band). He describes improvising solos with fellow band members as one of his greatest joys.
“What I love most about music is jamming, especially with the jazz trio,” says Minho, who plays acoustic and electric guitar, drums, trombone, bass and ukulele.
“Just covering a song exactly like the original can be impressive, but there’s less room for communicating as a band. Improvising solos and jamming gives the music purpose – it feels like a conversation, and you can use your musical knowledge to build on ideas.”
Music is a top priority for the Year 10 student, and 2021 looks set to be his biggest year yet.
“I’ve decided to step it up a lot with my music this year. I’m determined to master two challenging guitar pieces for the school’s Talent Quest, learn three new songs for my rock band, develop my vocal ability and trombone skills, and work on my jazz guitar solos. I also want to write and record some original songs, improve my timing on the drums, win some golds at competitions [his jazz ensemble ‘Minho and the Drongos’ placed silver at this year’s National Youth Jazz Competition], and attend the Auckland University Jazz Academy [for the third year running].”
Not only that but later this month, Minho will be attending rehearsals with the Manukau Concert Band – and of course, he’ll be working hard in the classroom to maintain his good grades. It’s a lot to take on, but this hardworking 14-year-old is confident of success.
“In previous years, I would plan and set big goals but sometimes not achieve them, however now I’ve become a lot better at scheduling and am finding it a lot easier to manage my time and fit in all my practices.”
ACG Strathallan’s outstanding music programme has been pivotal in laying the foundations for his success.
“I definitely wouldn’t be at the stage I’m at now if it wasn’t for my amazing music teachers who have helped me find a passion for music and have continued to push me to improve and take things to the next level.
“The school’s jazz band was the reason I started learning jazz drums, and all the other school bands have contributed so much. For example, the production band forced me to learn how to read sheet music, and the jazz trio developed my reactivity on the drums. Also, at times when I have felt my motivation waning, being part of the bands has driven me to keep practising and has helped me reconnect with my genuine love of music.”
An ACG student for longer than most, Minho started in the ACG Strathallan Preschool at the tender age of 18 months. In the 12-plus years since, he has developed an admirable work ethic and a strong sense of school pride, alongside his musical prowess.
“The most important lesson I’ve learnt is that each year school gets harder, so it is vital to stay on top of your workload.”
Luckily, at ACG Strathallan, there is an abundance of support and inspiration to ensure each student reaches their full potential.
“I love being an ACG Strathallan student. It’s an encouraging environment, and there is a wide range of extracurricular and academic opportunities.”