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My musical career started almost immediately as I was brought home from the hospital. I was raised in a musical household, and the constant melodies and fragments of solos, excerpts, and works for trombone enticed me to become a musician. My very first experiences with orchestral music and performances were through CD, and soon after my fourth birthday, I was able to go to live performances. Because of the constant influx of trombone students in my house, I had developed a liking for the trombone, and would “buzz” constantly. I would beg my father, who was the teacher of these students, to teach me trombone.

Of course, I was so young that even holding the instrument was difficult, but I was given the chance to start taking piano lessons. I immediately fell in love. While I did find practicing every day difficult, I loved making music and the feeling of finally playing an instrument. However, piano wasn’t enough, and I soon tried playing guitar, soon followed by percussion. Nearing my seventh birthday, all of those instruments were not enough, and because of my incessant “buzzing” around the house and begging, I was finally allowed to play the trombone.

That love of music, from the first day of piano lessons to my first trombone lesson with my dad, has stuck with me and grown exponentially. I sparingly find myself without an earbud in one ear, listening to my newest musical fascination. I have branched even further from my roots of piano, guitar, and percussion, and have picked up experience in bass guitar, trumpet, tuba, and even music production. Every day after orchestra rehearsal or music school, I come to the car with a smile, and talk vivaciously about my rehearsal and what I learned. I have a larger sense of belonging in a trombone section, choir, or quartet; brass ensemble; or back of a band or orchestra, than anywhere else.

Of course, music performance has its troubles as well. The first of my struggles started around seventh or eighth grade. I started falling behind in my schooling, and because of my devotion to practicing, I never could really catch up. The worst example of this would have been during my sophomore year. The COVID-19 shutdowns and regulations put a halt on most, if not all, of my musical ensembles. I lost motivation at a staggering rate, and found it hard to do relatively anything. I kept pushing to get better at the trombone, but because of that, my studies fell far behind. I ended up failing two classes during my first semester of sophomore year. That was a real wake-up call, and soon after I worked as hard as I could to keep my academics and trombone in balance. Fortunately, I was able to complete summer school, but my mistake still marred my GPA. Since then, I have worked hard to keep my grades in check and still progress even further as a musician.

I have no idea what I would do with my life if not music. Even through all of my struggles with grades, finding motivation during hard times, and even mental problems, music has helped me prevail. I really want to continue getting better and finding balance in the rest of my life, which I am pursuing in college. Not only would I be able to study with the best trombonists in the industry, but I would have experiences that will change the way I think about music – maybe even my life as well. On top of that, I would also be able to focus just on music, which is a dream I have had since I first started falling behind.

I can’t wait to see what I become, because I know that I will keep going, no matter where I go or how I choose to live. I absolutely think that becoming a musical artist would be a terrific way to progress, but the ultimate motive for me is just to keep going.

Please enjoy this video of my final recording of the first movement of the Tomasi Concerto.


Owen Riordan, Trombone Choir at UM, Owen on the road

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