Published May 9, 2023
BY SHAYLA DUTTA
Many students involved in Concert Band and Orchestra at Carmel High School find themselves playing a couple different instruments across multiple ensembles, whether it be in jazz, pit orchestra or pep band, but few can claim the same breadth of experience as senior Robert Gomez, who currently participates in eight music ensembles and plays five instruments.
“I like learning about music, and I like playing it,” Gomez says. “Jazz is definitely going to be in my life. Whether I can make it a career or not is dependent upon how much I’m willing to work toward it in the future.”
The future jazz studies major has been involved with music ever since he first picked up the oboe in elementary school, a challenging double-reed wind instrument. Now, he’ll be attending University of California, Los Angeles, after spending the last several years continuing to broaden his experience and involvement in music.
“It really started with River School, where everybody gets an instrument in fourth grade,” explains Tricia Bean, Gomez’s mother and a Spanish teacher at CHS. “Robert came home and said he wanted to play the oboe, and I was like, ‘What is an oboe?’”
Gomez then started to play the tenor saxophone for the Carmel Middle School jazz band, his first exposure to playing the music that would eventually become his intended major in college. He continued to pursue this interest through the CHS Jazz Ensemble, Monterey Jazz Festival’s high school All-Star Band, the Monterey Peninsula College Jazz Ensemble, and the Palenke Arts Latin Jazz Workshop.
“Sophomore year, over COVID, I started playing jazz guitar,” Gomez says. “That’s when I started getting super into jazz and developed my passion for music.”
After participating in the CHS pit orchestra as a junior, which plays music each year for the drama department’s spring musical, Gomez says he was then inspired to learn some of the instruments included in that ensemble. Because of it, he’s now added both the flute and the clarinet to his repertoire.
The musician attends six to seven rehearsals per week, which takes place all across the Monterey Peninsula, and can count on multiple performances a month ranging from playing at the Naval Postgraduate School’s graduation to paid gigs with a small Latin jazz combo.
“The All-Star Jazz Band is inspiring because everyone in it is young and pretty passionate about music,” Gomez adds. “We’re playing at the jazz festival this year, which is awesome, but we play at other local jazz events as well.”
Gomez also participates in the CHS Concert Band, the CHS Concert Choir, Youth Music Monterey Honor Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble and the Naval Postgraduate School Del Monte Brass Band, in addition to working as a lifeguard during the rare hours the senior is not on stage or in rehearsal.