Park City High School trombone player selected for the Honor Orchestra of America
When Michael Barski first picked up a trombone more than six years ago, he put it to his lips and immediately got a sound out of it. He did not know at the time, but there is no doubt now that deciding to try the trombone was a pivotal point in his life.
Other pivotal moments followed as he picked it up and played it time and again. Now, the senior at Park City High School is being recognized for his work. He was recently selected to be a member of the Honor Orchestra of America.
The orchestra is composed of high school musicians around the country and is selected by a national board. The students receive music assignments and meet to practice a few days before performing at the Music for All National Festival. The event this year will take place in Indianapolis from March 14 to 17.
Even though the trombone is a key part of Barski’s life now, the senior happened upon it by chance. He chose band in sixth grade through process of elimination with the other elective class options. He picked up the trombone because he said almost all of the other students wanted to play the trumpet.
Playing throughout sixth and seventh grade, he was able to see himself improve over time. He said that it was gratifying to see the difference in his abilities each year.
“I was really encouraged by that,” he said. “It was kind of a little niche that I was successful at and really interested in.”
He started improving by practicing for about 30 minutes a week outside of class, and then slowly added time. This year, there are days when he practices for five to six hours. Three of those come from class periods that are completely dedicated to practice time.
David Barski, his father, said that he is proud of his son and impressed by the sacrifices that he makes.
“He’s kind of finding his way in life with such talent and such potential,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch and support him.”
But what is perhaps most remarkable to him is that his son is essentially self-taught. Michael Barski would receive some instruction at school, but he did not have any individual lessons until later in his life.
“He was playing before he knew how to read or write music,” David Barski said.
These days, he goes to individual lessons.
Add that onto rehearsals for the PCHS varsity jazz band, of which he is the lead trombone, and the All State Orchestra, of which he is first chair for trombones, and you get a player who is being nationally recognized.
“We start rehearsals at 6:30 in the morning,” he said. “It can be a bit much.”
Barski said that finding time to do homework between practice time has been hard. When he was at school for 12 hours a day rehearsing with the orchestra for a musical, he could hardly find the time to get anything else done.
He attributes his success to the music program at the high school and the community. During the Deer Valley Music Festival last year, he worked with Sam Elliot, who plays trombone for the Utah Symphony. Since the school’s music program is sponsored by Yamaha, Barski also did a clinic with Larry Zalkind, who was the principal trombone player for the Utah Symphony for more than 30 years.
“That was a big moment for moving forward with my playing,” he said.
Barski said that he always thought that pursuing music as a career would not be possible. Since he received an email that said he was selected for the Honor Orchestra – which he reread about seven times – that has started to change.
“That was a big charge of momentum for me for confidence in my playing,” he said.
While he plans on studying music performance when he goes to the University of Utah in the fall, he also wants to study business in order to supplement his skills. He knows how competitive the music performance world is.
Barski said that he is excited to meet with other talented players around the country as well as work with a professional conductor when the orchestra meets next month. Plus, as the only player from Utah, he is excited to represent his home state and town.
“It’s a big experience for everyone there,” he said. “Everyone is bringing a new level of focus and dedication to what they are doing.”
A Parkite who immigrated to the U.S. when he was 13 is giving scholarships and internships to three first-generation graduates from PCHS.