Music at Mason: finding a niche

Senior Charlotte Crum plays bari sax during pit orchestra rehearsal for Chicago. Crum was also in Spamalot’s pit orchestra last year.

Photo by Sequoia Wyckoff

Senior Charlotte Crum plays bari sax during pit orchestra rehearsal for Chicago. Crum was also in Spamalot’s pit orchestra last year.

By Sequoia Wyckoff, George Mason High School

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Senior Claudia Gusman has been a percussionist since eighth grade; Senior Charlotte Crum has been playing saxophone since sixth. They’re both in wind ensemble and have been in the pit orchestra for years. On top of that, Gusman spent two years in Drums class and Crum is in jazz band.

“I’m glad someone is writing about this,” Gusman told me. “People aren’t aware of how much work we do.”

Being a band student is a full-time job. For these two, it has meant countless winter & spring concerts, musical performances, and JV Shows over their four years, all directed by band teacher Mrs. West.

The jazz band is a small, audition-exclusive extracurricular. The group is more relaxed than concert band or wind ensemble.

“Jazz is more of a laid back genre, so people voice their opinions on what we’re playing,” Crum said. This contrasts with the more structured, in-class wind ensemble environment.

However, the jazz band is still a serious commitment, playing at city events multiple times a month and meeting most weeks.

“I have rehearsal after school every day this week,” Crum said. 

Drums, a class offered by Mason, is also a unique environment.

“The first year, I was the only girl,” Gusman said. “And there were only four other guys. It was very personal, which was what I needed.”

“We’re really close,” she explained. “Especially me, Alex [Smith], and Addison [Rasmussen]. We’ve been at it since middle school.”

Girl plays drums in practice room.

Senior Claudia Gusman in the percussion room, playing the toms. As a percussionist, she plays most of the percussion instruments but specializes in the timpani

Students in the same instrument section grow close in band class. Most of the percussion section went through Drums class together, their most memorable moment being their JV show trash can performances.

“It’s cool that people remember our crazy trash can thing,” said Gusman.

“Percussion section is a squad,” Crum chimed in. She, by contrast, “associates with the lower reeds.”

Neither of the two knew going into band class freshman year that it would become such a big part of their lives. Crum joined band because she wanted an unconventional class where she could take a break from sitting and taking notes. However, it quickly became more than just an escape – it helped her find where she’s “supposed to be musically.”

“I had no idea I would become this passionate,” Crum said. “I never knew how much I would care.”

Gusman shared Crum’s sentiment: “Walking into high school, I had no idea music would be my niche, but it was.”


This story was originally published on The Lasso on February 6, 2019.