‘Developed incredibly as a player’

Teen travels to Boston to hone clarinet skills

Published in SanTan Sun News July 19, 2014

A 16-year-old Chandler student is calling Boston University his summer home as he perfects his clarinet performance at a workshop for teens.

“I have certainly developed incredibly as a player,” says Thomas Desrosiers, who attends Corona de Sol High School.

Desrosiers is participating in Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute Clarinet Workshop and Young Artists Wind Ensemble through Monday, July 28. He was accepted into the program after providing an audition videotape of him playing a few clarinet excerpts and two contrasting solo pieces.

“In March, BUTI offered him a spot and a scholarship. A week later, CWU (Central Washington University) offered him a spot and a scholarship,” his parents, Julieta and Bob Desrosiers, explain in a joint emailed statement. “It was a difficult decision, but we opted to focus solely on BUTI’s two-week clarinet workshop. We thought that was the end of it, but later received another invitation to participate in BUTI-Young Artists Wind Ensemble, a four-week program right after the clarinet workshop.”

The scholarship was a very nice offer, but we still could not afford the second program. After a few calls back and forth, Thomas received a hefty scholarship to attend the Young Artist Wind Ensemble for almost free of charge.”

Since arriving at the camp, Thomas has participated in ensemble rehearsals, individual practices and attended afternoon concerts. He says he has learned a lot of new ideas, techniques and materials.

“It is really incredible because it is such a high level of playing and high level of maturity,” Thomas says. “Back at home, there would be only a few kids practicing 10 hours in a day. Here it is everyone. You get to be with your own kind in a way because they enjoy the same things you do.”

The camp, Thomas says, develops individuals into players, not only during the weeks they are enrolled, but when they return home. He says the Boston University camp provides ample opportunities to make connections with professors and guest artists.

Thomas says he came to the camp hoping it would guide him toward a career path.

“I came to this camp hoping it would be a deciding factor of whether or not I would pursue music in the future or science,” he says. “Even though it has been almost a month of being here, I still have not come to a conclusion.”

Alexander Borodin, an 1800s composer and chemist, is the teen’s inspiration.

“He was not only a great performer, but a noted chemist,” Thomas says. “He found time to do both science and music, which is really what I admire.”

Thomas’ interest in the clarinet began while he was in fifth grade after a musician visited his elementary school and demonstrated various instruments. The sound of the clarinet grabbed his attention, and he has kept it for the past five years because of its versatility.

He says he can play jazz or classical music with the clarinet with a dark tone or bright clear sound.

“It can really do anything depending on the player,” Thomas explains.

He is a member of the Youth Ensemble at Phoenix Youth Symphony. In the fall, he will join the Youth Symphony of Southwest and will continue playing with the Wind Ensemble at Corona del Sol High School and King of Glory Clarinet Choir.


‘I want your ears’

I interviewed a young musician for the SanTan Sun News in Chandler, Arizona a few weeks ago. Sam was fun to interview and very thankful for the article. After he read what I wrote, he sent me an email telling me he was going to frame the article. What a great compliment.

My article was published in the SanTan Sun News Sat. Dec. 7, 2013

“Chandler musician plays Underground”

Living in Guatemala City, Sam Braxten learned he had a good ear for music. To hone his performance skills, he played every Sunday at his church.

“I was a Christian kid,” says the 23-year-old Braxten, whose real name is Sam Gomez. “Music was a big part of my life.”

It still is. Moving to Chandler in 2004, the pop music artist has embarked on a solo career, after a 12-year stint in bands,inspired by a variety of artists ranging from Train to Jamiroquai, from Sam Cooke to Gavin DeGraw.

“I have been a part of a band since I was really young,” he explains. “You have to rely on others and mix ideas. Although it was a blast, I realized that the style of music we were playing wasn’t really what I wanted to do.”

Early musical career

Armed with some English, Braxten found it easy to make friends as a student at Hamilton High School. He soon started playing in the quintet Patience Wears Thin, which stayed together throughout high school. It played shows around the area at venues such as the Marquee Theatre and the now-closed Clubhouse in Tempe.

In 2011, he began playing with Beretta Sun, the members of which found him on Craigslist. Through word of mouth, the band learned there was an opening at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, and it was invited to perform. Braxten explains that the band prepared some music and hit the road to perform at the festival.

“It was really fun,” he says. “It’s really fun being on the road with your best friends doing what we want to do. Even though we were looking forward to playing at the festival, the fun part was being on the road.”

Included in its Sundance set was Maroon 5’s song “Harder to Breathe,” which was a hit with the crowd. Braxten explains that the place filled up because people thought it was actually Maroon 5 playing the song.

“They still stayed and loved it,” he says.

When the band returned from the festival in January, Braxten parted ways, so he could start his solo career. He changed his stage name, started building his website and began recording songs at his Chandler home.

“It was a really hard decision,” he says, “It was tough news for them because we were together for so many years.”

Going it alone

In kicking off his solo career, Braxten discovered that he wanted to learn how to play the piano.

“I first thought the piano was hard to play,” he says. “Within four months I really mastered it to the point where I could really make songs on my own.”

Now, as a solo artist, Braxten writes all of his melodies and lyrics, which is a rewarding experience.

“The messages are 100% me,” he explains.

Music fans can take a listen for themselves when he releases his CD, “The Young & The Lost,” when it is released to iTunes soon.

“It’s only four songs,” he explains. “It’s an introduction of who I am.”

The songs describe the life of the young artist and how he is disenchanted by the world. He considers his lyrics fun, original and eccentric. He is recording a full-length, 11-song CD.

“I come up with melodies all the time,” he says. “Wherever I go I have my cell phone and it has a recorder. You will find me humming into my phone with a melody.”

Braxten’s next show is 3:45 p.m. Sat., Dec. 14, during the Hells Bells Festival at the Underground, an extension of the Nile Theater, 105 W. Main Street, Mesa. He says he is really looking forward to opening the show. Braxten plays about once a month live at different venues, functions and charity shows.

“I mainly try to do cheap and free shows,” he says. “I don’t want your money, I want your ears.”

For more information about Braxten, visit sambraxten.com, reverbnation.com/sambraxten or facebook.com/sambraxten.