Award-winning musician shares secrets to success with Sulphur band students

Arturo Sandoval, an award-winning jazz musician, plays the trumpet during a visit to band students at Sulphur High School on Monday. His visit was part of the McNeese State University 2018 Banners Season. Sandoval told the students that they will be as good as they want to be with unwavering practice habits. 

MarlisaHardingEducation Reporter
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Grammy and Emmy award-winning jazz musician Arturo Sandoval taught a master class to Sulphur High School band students on Monday as a part of the McNeese State University 2018 Banners Season.

A native of Cuba, Sandoval grew up in a small countryside village and had to quit school at 10 years old in order to support his family. Soon after, the village formed a community band, and he chose the trumpet because he was attracted to the way it can “express feelings without limitations,” he said.

“The music saved my life … I owe everything to the music,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval described one of his early music teachers as a “horrible, cranky, old man.” After one lesson, he said the teacher told him, “Don’t waste my time, and don’t waste yours. You’ll never make it.” Sandoval persevered, becoming a protégé of legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie and winning 10 Grammy awards.

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“There’s always room for another good musician,” he said. “God gave a little bit of talent to everybody.”  

When asked about his practice habits, learning process and experience as a professional musician, Sandoval emphasized the importance of personal dedication.

“You’re going to be as good as you want to be,” he said.  

The difference between someone who plays music as a hobby, versus a professional musician, is that the two require “completely different mentalities,” Sandoval said. Unwavering practice habits and regular performance are required for those wanting to become professionals. However, he added, a strong work ethic and passion are vital ingredients for success in any area of life.  

Tim McMillen, band director, said he hopes his students will keep in mind the “special kind of focus” Sandoval frequently referred to as an element of excellent musicianship.  

Sandoval answered questions about working with some of music’s greatest legends such as Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. He also spoke fondly about his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, whom he considers one of his greatest musical and professional influences. Sandoval said Gillespie’s greatest contribution was helping him come to the “United States as a political refugee.”

Sandoval, 68, said the travel and business associated with being a professional musician can be tiring. But he said the music remains his “biggest motivation.” “Anything and everything I do, I have fun,” he said. “In the end, you know you’re going to be on the stage, playing the concert and making music people will love.”

‘There’s always room for another good musician. God gave a little bit of talent to everybody.’

Arturo Sandoval

Grammy and Emmy

award-winning jazz musician

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