Blowing through the competition


Samyuktha Vellaiyan, Staff Writer

When he began playing the clarinet in middle school, Diamond Bar High School junior Andrew Chang never knew he would be able to take his music skills to international competitions.

Chang started playing the clarinet six years ago while in South Pointe Middle School’s band. Since then, he has been taking lessons at the Colburn School of Music in Downtown Los Angeles and is involved in some of its programs, such as the Colburn Youth Orchestra and the Honors Woodwind Quintet. Chang attributes his musical success to his teacher, Michael Yoshimi, who has been teaching him since he first started playing.

“I study with my teacher, Michael Yoshimi, who I have been studying with throughout my entire experience playing the clarinet,” Chang said via text. “My teacher definitely had a big role in my progression in music.”

After years of practicing, Chang was able to take his clarinet skills to the next level by entering in various competitions.

“I always thought of practicing and rehearsing as something that I kept doing to improve. Eventually the things I have done just started falling into place,” Chang said.

Chang has competed in multiple competitions, including Spotlight, YoungArts and one hosted by the International Clarinet Association. For Spotlight and the ICA, Chang had to send a video recording of a few solo pieces. He received a merit award for passing the first preliminary round in Spotlight, and became a finalist for ICA. He then traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in the final round, along with six other finalists.

For Chang’s most recent competition, YoungArts, he had to send video recordings of solo pieces, which were then evaluated in multiple rounds by groups of panelists. As one of the 21 finalists, Chang was sent to Miami to participate in National YoungArts Week. Along with his competitors, he was evaluated on his rehearsal techniques, his live audition and his interactions with other musicians.

Although he was being judged, Chang was already considered one of the winners of the competition, as this judging round was just an evaluation to potentially win bonus monetary prizes. The winners have the potential to win up to $10,000.

Even after winning multiple competitions, Chang finds amusing the crowd with his melodious music to be the most endearing part of this experience.

“Knowing that you were able to give a performance that moved the audience and invoked a response from them. Being able to connect to them through my music. These are things I could only experience through a performance,” Chang said. “It’s a feeling that can’t be reproduced any other way and it makes the massive amount of work worth it.”

Chang will continue to play the clarinet throughout his life, as music is one of the most prominent and favored hobbies.

“As of right now, I am still unsure on what I want to pursue in my future, whether it be music or something else, but I would definitely want music to still be a part of my life,” Chang said.