HADLEY — When Bobby Klesch took to the pavement with his trumpet in the Tournament of Roses Parade Jan. 2, he was part of the 300-member Bands of America Honor Band.
It’s a lot bigger than the bands the eighth-grader plays in at Hopkins Academy.
“At Hopkins, we don’t even have 300 people in our entire middle and high school,” Klesch said in a phone interview from Pasadena, California. “In my band, we only have two trumpets. Here we have probably around 20.”
Klesch was among hundreds of students nationwide who applied to be in the honor band. He’s the only middle school musician who made the cut, said his father Michael Klesch, who arranges music for a living and is helping coordinate this year’s performance.
The parade — commonly referred to as the Rose Bowl Parade — was broadcast on ABC, NBC and other networks starting at 11 a.m. EST on Jan 2. The parade preceded the Rose Bowl, when the USC Trojans (10-3) narrowly beat the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-3).
Michael Klesch said he’s proud Bobby is getting a chance to play with older students from larger schools — and how he’s handling the opportunity.
“I’ve been really proud of how he’s conducted himself,” he said.
His principal, Brian Beck, said Bobby Klesch is an “amazing young man.”
And his band teacher, Evan Bartlett, said Klesch has the three traits that make up a great student — talent, dedication and passion.
“Not only is he extraordinarily gifted,” Bartlett said, “but he’s also eager to help others.”
High praise. What’s it like to receive that sort of recognition?
“I just makes me feel good and shows me I’m doing the right thing,” Klesch said.
Rest assured, he’s not in this for the headlines or the attention, his father said. He’s just an active kid, who, in addition to playing in the concert, pep and jazz bands, has carved out time to play soccer and take plane piloting lessons.
Klesch’s time with the trumpet started when he was in third grade and older students came to the cafeteria to show off different instruments.
“I decided to play the trumpet,” he said. “I think when I was in third grade I picked it because it had the least amount of buttons.
“There have been times when I thought about playing drums or the saxophone but I stayed with the trumpet and really started to like it,” he added.
Unlike woodwind instruments, where each button triggers a different note, the same fingerings on a trumpet can yield different notes.
“I like that you can kind of vary the notes you play,” Klesch said.
Because Hopkins is a small school, every year some younger students are asked to play up a level, his dad said — much like Bobby’s jaunt to Pasadena, where he’s playing in a band made up mostly of high school musicians.
In fifth grade, Klesch was invited to play in the middle school band. This year, he was invited to join the pep and the jazz bands.
“This is my first teaching job, but it was very clear right off the bat that this is someone I could depend upon,” Bartlett said.
This year, the honor band is performing two songs played during end-of-night fireworks at Epcot in Walt Disney World, a patriotic mix of tunes and “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban.
Klesch said he practices a half-hour to an hour each day. He said he’s put in extra work to memorize songs and condition for the 5.5-mile route down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard.
“Once I was accepted, I knew I had to step it up,” he said.
Contact Jack Suntrup at email@example.com.