Trumpeting Toward His Dream
POSTED: 2008-01-30 :: LAST UPDATED: 2008-01-30, 13:08 ET
The trumpet hasn't always been Ryan Svendsen's (UCLA) number one priority. He began playing in elementary school and continued in middle school, despite the discovery that it truly is one of the most difficult instruments he could have chosen. However, during his early high school years at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Ca., instead of music, Ryan's focus was on sports, especially water polo and swimming. He even made it as far as becoming a Junior National Olympic Water Polo player.
Ryan grew more serious about the trumpet during his junior year and joined the Peninsula Youth Orchestra with other Bay Area kids and had the opportunity to tour Europe as part of the orchestra. He was Principal Trumpet with the California Youth Symphony Orchestra, winner of the 2006 Senior Soloist Competition and toured China, visiting Shanghai and Beijing, with CYS in summer 2006. By the time he was a senior, Ryan was traveling the country on a series of college auditions with Julliard, Vanderbilt, USC and UCLA.
He had a strong desire to attend UCLA and was pleased that his audition went so well. However this wasn't the only thing that attracted him to the school. "I came to UCLA for its diversity and for the social aspects of college life versus it being strictly about music," he says. As a freshman, in spring 2007, Ryan joined the Epsilon Pi Chapter of Sigma Nu and was selected as the Honor Candidate of his candidate class, entitling him to the lowest pin number at initiation.
Today, he's a sophomore-the recipient of a four-year scholarship-with the privilege of studying under world-renown trumpet player Jens Lindemann, professor at UCLA. "As one of the thriving cities in the music industry, being in Los Angeles has brought me so many opportunities," says Ryan. It's given him exposure and the opportunity to play with Herbie Hancock, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Ryan Shaw, Wayne Shorter, Allen Vizzutti, Patrick Sheridan and the Dave Matthews Tribute Band, many of whom are pictured on his website. However, his ultimate dream remains unfulfilled: to play with Boyd Tinsley, the famous Sigma Nu, of the Dave Matthews Band.
Ryan is currently a member of UCLA's Wind Ensemble, Brass Choir, Symphony and was a soloist for the Marching Band in 2006 and 2007. He played in the UCLA Trumpet ensemble that placed 5th in the National Trumpet Competition his freshman year. He enjoys playing jazz and classical music and would be thrilled to pursue a career as a solo trumpet player. To do that, he knows he's got to make a name for himself and he's actively pursuing connections and making the most of every opportunity that comes his way.
Ryan recalls that most of the other kids who chose the trumpet back in fifth grade eventually dropped out. In those early years, the difficulty of the instrument was discouraging for him as well, but Ryan's parents arranged for private lessons and pushed him to stick with it-a strategy that seems to have worked. With practice and perseverance he says he got better and it eventually got easier. Now, he takes every opportunity to attend concerts so that he can learn new things and gain the motivation to improve his skills.
His pursuit of music has been quite a learning experience for Ryan and an important exercise in discipline and patience. "It takes a long time and a lot of practice to get good. These are essential lessons that I can apply to my every day life," he says. His parents continue to be very supportive, but he still gets questions about his future. "My ideal job would involve playing the trumpet. It would be a dream come true to do something I love and to help educate people on it as well," he shares.
What's next for Ryan? "I don't really care if I ‘make it', but I'm having fun along the way," he says. "Making it" in Ryan's eyes means seeing an album with his name on it in a record store and being able to financially support himself with his music. While the trumpet is very important to him, Ryan says he's not devoting his whole life to it. He's also considering a career as an agent or manager, should his dream for a solo career not come to fruition.
Ryan's most recent performance was on January 28, 2008, at the House of Blues in Los Angeles with The Nikhil Korula Band. In early February he'll return to China, this time to Hong Kong, with the UCLA Band to play in the International New Year's Parade.