FLEMING ISLAND – Playing the trumpet defines Fleming Island High senior Matt Gange. That’s who he is. A trumpet player.
Sure, he’s currently taking a full course load, including Advanced …
FLEMING ISLAND – Playing the trumpet defines Fleming Island High senior Matt Gagne. That’s who he is. A trumpet player.
Sure, he’s currently taking a full course load, including Advanced Placement and dual-enrollment classes, all while maintaining an A-level GPA, and plans to pursue a career in mechanical engineering after graduating this May – but for him, the trumpet is what really makes him happy.
“I’ll be playing for the rest of my life,” Gagne said. “Even if I’m not doing band in college, I still want to play.”
His trumpet prowess earned him three trips to the Florida All-State band in Tampa, in his eighth grade year, his junior year, and this year as a senior. Gagne started playing in seventh grade, and he was a natural on the instrument; perhaps, even, had a genetic predisposition for it.
“He originally wanted to play trombone,” said Paul Gagne, Matt’s father, a trumpet instructor at FIHS, and a 20-year veteran trumpeter with the United States Navy Band. “I was very excited when he chose trumpet.”
With his instrument, Matt has achieved more than he had ever hoped. Though he might be humble, dismissing the weighed-down top shelf in his room as a place where he just throws anything band related. The shelf is full of awards and trophies, showing how well he has done.
It was in his freshman year of high school that he first heard of Drum Corps International. There was a group of the school’s band students who asked Matt if he was going to a show in Atlanta. He had never heard of DCI, but decided to go. After watching a performance by the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps, Matt remembers thinking to himself “I wanna’ do that one day.”
Two years later, Matt was auditioning for the Crusaders in Tampa.
“I had no intentions of making it, I just went for the experience,” he said.
Well, he made it.
Though it is a huge honor, Matt had also been selected as one of Fleming Island High’s three drum majors for his senior year’s marching band, which was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. To be a drum major he would have to attend a leadership training event that would conflict with his Crusaders schedule, so he had to give up his spot, but that didn’t stop him from returning this past November to audition again.
DCI is regarded in the marching band community as “professional marching band.” It’s the best musicians can do, especially on a corps such as the Crusaders who are in the World Class, which is the top flight of DCI musicians, with the Open Class falling just behind.
For the first round of Crusaders auditions, there were about 300 prospects who attended one of the three camps in Boston, Texas and Tampa. Of those 300, 75 got a call-back, with all of those heading to Tampa for the second round of auditions. Out of those 75, 40 were trumpets, and only 24 were offered contracts with the Crusaders. Matt was one of those 24.
Since being offered a contract in December, Matt has attended monthly camps with this year’s Crusaders, practicing the music in order to get the score memorized before taking the show to the field and adding the steps. On May 20, Matt will leave to begin his residence with the Crusaders, sleeping in high school gyms and touring the country on a bus performing almost every night. They will do about 29 shows, and travel more than 10,000 miles, culminating on August 11 when the DCI World Championships start in Indianapolis.
The whirlwind tour is just another exciting chapter in the trumpet career of Matt Gagne, and he can’t wait to get started.
“I’ll get to play with other people of high caliber, people with the same passion,” Matt said. “For these people that’s their main focus.”
He is most excited for what he calls his “home shows.” Those are the shows falling on July 8, 10, and 12; in Orlando, a location to be announced in South Florida, and Atlanta, respectively. He is hoping that he’ll have a chance to perform for some of his classmates and friends from Fleming Island High.
Since his seventh grade year, music has been Matt’s life. All of his friends are in band and his schedule revolves around rehearsals for the various bands and ensembles he participates in.
“The trumpet has always led me to new fronts, and new experiences,” Matt said. “It’s fun to play, but the social experience you get out of it gives you so much more. I’ve always enjoyed it, and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it either.”