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Name That Tune: Jean-Luc Shimizu

Jenna Mazzoccoli
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Jean-Luc Shimizu

Jean-Luc Shimizu, a senior at The Awty International School, has a passion for jazz music. His talents in jazz got him to the All-State Jazz Band at the beginning of this year.

Jean-Luc Shimizu, a senior at The Awty International School and an All-State musician, is a jazz enthusiast and a talented trumpeter. Throughout the pandemic, he has dedicated more time to his craft and sharing his music with others. Read on for excerpts from our interview and watch his video to see if you can name that tune.  

Age: 18 years old
Profession: Senior at The Awty International School
Instrument: Trumpet

Many students who go to Awty are international students. Have you lived abroad before?
I was born here and have lived here all 18 years. But both of my parents are from Japan. So I have visited there for long periods and even taken some school there as well. The summer in America starts about a month earlier than summer in Japan. So right after school ended here, I went to Japan and took school. My grandparents in Japan live a minute away from a school and my parents asked for special permission. So, I have gotten the chance to attend school in Japan and America.

How many years have you gotten to attend school in Japan?
Only for two years.

How did you like going from an American school to a Japanese school?
It’s really cool. There is such a big difference between the schools here and schools in Japan. For example, we have lunch in a cafeteria here. But in Japan, everyone brings their lunch and we just eat in the classroom. Just lots of differences like that!

Did you speak Japanese with your family growing up?
Yes. At home, I speak Japanese with my parents almost 100% of the time.

Do your parents play any instruments? Did you learn about music through them?
Surprisingly, I’m the only one in my family who plays an instrument. But now, my mom is learning to play the guitar so I can teach her some stuff.

When did you start playing?
I initially started violin when I was 5 years old for about a year. But I started playing again around the 2nd grade. The music teacher at my elementary school played for us the Star Wars theme song, and I started playing again. She knew what to play for us to get us interested in music!

How did you end up at The Awty International School?
I went to an Awty band and orchestra concert when I was going to a public elementary school, and I really wanted to go there! I applied and got in. Initially as a sixth grader, I only played violin. So I started off in the orchestra. But I play multiple instruments now – violin, trumpet, and a bit of piano and saxophone.

Are you involved in band or orchestra?
Well, neither right now because no one is meeting. But before this year, I was in the band, jazz band, and orchestra.

What’s school been like this year?
For the first month or so, everyone was online. But after that, there was an option to go back to school. Some people went back to school and some people remained online. There’s a mix of online and in-person students. I’m still doing remote learning!

Since you’re a senior, are you in the midst of college applications? If so, what kind of programs are you applying for?
I’m thought about doing music in college, but I’ve decided on majoring in Bio Chem. So I’m applying to a couple of schools, some that are really hard to get in to!

How has your experience at Awty influenced you as a young adult and as a musician?
Being at an international school and having that level of diversity has made me experience a lot of different cultures. And then at Awty, we have the International Festival, which happens annually. Japan happens to be the main country this year. So for that, I am going to record some Japanese songs on the trumpet and violin. Having a variety of these views gives me an insight into how the world works. I love that my school is international. And then for the music programs have wonderful teacher who are really supportive of our musical careers. They are invested in each student and the program as a whole.

What’s your most notable music moment to date?
The one that comes to mind is from the All-State Concert earlier this year in San Antonio. I made the All-State Jazz Band. The musicians there were really talented, the choices in music were great, and the overall atmosphere was amazing.

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