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September 29, 2009     Cape Gazette
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C pe00Life Saltwater Portrait))p Talented SuSsex Teih tuba player hits all the right notes Johnson awaits trip to Gator Bowl By Tom Walsh tomwalsh@capegazette.com f all the instruments in Sussex Tech High School marching band, Rob Johnson admits he might play the most awkward one. Weighing more than 30 pounds, his big, shiny tu- ba is hard just to lug around, he says, not to mention to play while staying in cadence, slJ Practicing the versatile instru- m ment since fifth grade, the 16- the year-old junior says he has a rm pretty good handle on it now. In hir fact, his blooming musical abili- de ty has not only earned him the distinction of the brass instru- Ha ment section leader;, it has also be started to garner attention from pe: colleges in neighboring states. Joining other young musical ew prospects at Penn State Univer- sm sity this summer, Rob participat- "T ed in a grueling band camp to ou hone his technique. Performing no at the Eisenhower Performance lac TOM WAkSt SSEX TECH JUNIOR R{ NNII chose to play the! fifth grade. Now six years Ii stery of the instrument has 1 accolades and given hin ice. I1 on campus, he was gt one of very few studenl ienced in playing the tl The instrument isn't fo '.ryone - most kids choc :ophone or trumpet," h PHOTO BEIrr :uba in ter, his mrned confi- dto ; ex- ba. se the said. aere are a lot of great players :there, but with the tubO ... : so much," he said wi a gh. Finishing the program before the start of school, he said it gave him confidence to play his best in what is shaping up to be a busy year. Rob is fundraising with other Sussex Tech Ravens band mem- bers, hoping to attend this year's Gator Bowl Championship in Jacksonville, Fla., held Jan. 1. If the music program raises enough money to attend the event, he said, Sussex Tech could be featured on network television news. He is also look- hag forward to joining his school at an annual Veterans Day Festi- val in November, where the Ravens' marching abilities will also be on parade. While Rob says practicing the tuba and performing at events rank among his favorite activi- ties, his instrument has also led him down another path. The one thing he likes better than a perfect recital, he said, is teach- ing others to love music. "When you're just starting out, a lot of times playing music is hard. "Whether it's reading the notes or learning a new song, it can be frustrating. That's one thing that I like helping people with. If you keep on trying, it's going to click eventually and everything is going to work out," he said. "One of my favorite things is helping people reach that point," he said. With a desire to major in mu- sic education in college, Rob says one day he hopes to be- come a band director. "I really like music, and I like to tell people all about it," he said, !'so I figure what could be better than having a job where I can teach people about music all the time?" Earning honors, including be- ing named All County First Chair Tuba, said Rob's mother Ginny Dugge, Rob is already well prepared for what will be an intense musical curriculum in college. "He has always been very ded- icated to playing," said Dugge. "When he first came home and told me he was going to be play- ing the tuba, I said, 'Couldn't you have picked a smaller instru- ment?'" "Now I just figure it's better than carrying around a string harp" she joked. Perfectly matched with the tu- ba, Rob says no other instru- ment could have been as useful or fun as playing the brass go- liatE Even though it might mean a few more pounds to car- ry around while marching, he says the instrument's wide tonal range and bright, shiny looks make it second to none. "It can do everything from be- ing loud and booming to playing really low notes about the same tone as the human voice," he said. "Looking back on it right now, I know it was dermitely the right choice." Johnson said while practice has helped him develop his mu- sical abilities, he would not have been as successful without the support of his family, his teach- ers and his grandparents. For more information on how to help the Sussex Tech Ravens be featured in the upcoming G0tor Bowl visit www.sus- sexvtJd2.de.us/web. The band will be under the direction of Marching Leader Harvey Bul- lock.