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Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

Musician Spotlight: Parker Sloan

Sloan acting as concertmaster during an LHS concert. Photo courtesy of Parker Sloan
Sloan acting as concertmaster during an LHS concert. Photo courtesy of Parker Sloan

As he sat in his music-ified basement while strumming on his Epiphone Les Paul (his prized electric guitar), senior Parker Sloan reminisced on all the music groups he has been involved in during his time at the high school–ten groups, to be exact. 

Although Sloan participates in nine ensembles now, his beginnings were far simpler and humbler than that; his musical journey stemmed from the halls of Marion Street Elementary School. “It started in second grade when I played the violin, and then I played the clarinet in third,” Sloan explained. In terms of his violin, Sloan has grown on that instrument over the last 10 years, playing in multiple ensembles across Long Island, such as the Long Island Youth Orchestra and Metropolitan Youth Orchestra for a few years prior. And, in the case of his reed instruments, he said, “I switched to saxophone in eighth grade because I wanted to be in the jazz band in high school.” After just five years of playing the saxophone, Sloan has now been the lead saxophonist in the Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo for the last two years. Sloan’s instrumental prowess continues to grow; he has recently picked up the guitar and occasionally plays tenor saxophone for jazz despite the alto sax being his main instrument. 

One of the ensembles Sloan has devoted himself to for three years is the Pit Orchestra, which plays the score of the Drama Club’s musicals. Sloan’s favorite high school musical memories have come from this orchestra. “That was the entry to everything I did with theater…It was amazing,” Sloan reflected. “The Pit,” as it is referred to within the music wing, gave Sloan the chance to show off on his two main instruments: violin and alto saxophone. During his sophomore and senior years, he played violin in Les Misérables and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, respectively.  Sloan’s saxophone had a time to shine during his junior year in the musical Anything Goes

Sloan constantly surrounds himself with music to grow both his talents and enjoyment. “I love listening to music…I don’t really think there’s a genre I don’t like,” Sloan shared. Despite his overall love for music, Sloan has a few key musicians that he listens to who inspire him to keep playing. “I love Itzhak Perlman; I listen to every single recording he has for violin,” Sloan explained. Sloan has used Perlman’s playing style to perfect his own. Sloan’s other favorites include Jacob Collier and Zach Bryan.

Sloan’s growth has been observed closely by many of his instructors, such as band teacher Brian White, whom Sloan appreciates greatly. Sloan began his high school band classes in the Wind Ensemble, a more advanced group than freshmen typically start with. His growth and talent were also evident by his New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) auditions, both for All-County and All-State. “I think he did Level-5 NYSSMA as a ninth grader…he jumped up to Level-6 the year after, and then the year after did an All-State audition,” White recalled. “He was kind of thrown into the fire as a ninth grader, and by the time he was even a junior, had just become an unbelievable player,” White summarized. “It takes a lot to go from sounding like kind of a kid playing to sounding like a professional playing, and he has crossed that barrier at some point in the last year or so where he really sounds like a pro saxophonist…It’s in the tone,” White asserted. 

On his violin, Sloan has been privately taught for seven years by Lynbrook resident Shaun Lazar. “I have watched Parker develop technically and musically into a fantastic violinist. He has a lot of natural talent which helps, but his practice habits have propelled him forward in a way few of my students have achieved. He is also a very emotional player, connecting to music with a maturity beyond his years and always connecting to his audience,” Lazar shared. 

Sloan playing his saxophone during a jazz concert. Photo courtesy of Parker Sloan

While Sloan serves as an inspiration to many fellow music students in LHS’s music rooms, the person who Sloan has probably inspired the most is his little sister, freshman Lily Sloan. “The reason I started playing the violin and sax was because he was so good at both of them, and I looked up to him for being so talented. All throughout middle, elementary, and high school, he has taught me so much and pushed me to become the best musician I could be and continues to do so,” Lily shared. 

Additionally, orchestra teacher Veronica Underhill recalled an additional example from this year of Sloan inspiring the greater Lynbrook music community. Although Sloan hails from the north side of town, he got a chance to shine at a southside winter concert. “Parker played a fun fiddle-style violin solo as a guest with the Marion Street chorus. Many of the students showered him with compliments on his playing after the concert and one of the students either told Parker he wanted to play like that or asked how he could learn to,” Underhill shared. 

As any great musician knows, the key to excellence is practice, and Sloan is a prime example of this age-old concept. “I was just playing scales for a while for violin, doing the Galamian scale pattern, and also working on my pieces,” Sloan recalled. For his saxophone and jazz charts specifically, he said, “I listen to the recordings for jazz bands and play along with them.” What is valuable in listening to these recordings is that Sloan can listen to multiple saxophonists play the same solo differently, allowing him to improvise in his own way. 

The Lynbrook Music Department has taught Sloan many crucial lessons, but the most important to him is the value of cooperation and collaborating with other people. He joked about this in regard to band specifically: “If you’re in band, you kind of have to ‘band together.’” Additionally, music helped Sloan to find himself and who he wanted to be. “I kind of learned who I was as a person through it; I don’t put other people down in groups, no matter how good or bad they are or how mean they are. I try to make it a sort of family thing for me,” Sloan shared. 

A final lesson that Sloan has learned from the music department is realizing how much he is capable of: “It’s taught me how much I can do because I’ve worked on so much.” This lesson is especially important when he is juggling all of his musical and non-musical activities. The key here for Sloan is that he enjoys what he does. “[Music] made me a happier person in general, so I’m able to balance my life just because of how happy I am in these things. Other than that, I have to study during my off periods all the time and stay up late to study,” Sloan shared. 

In addition to his personal motivation, Sloan gave a special shoutout to his parents for their constant support. Sloan also recognized that the people he shares the music department with are where his true support comes from. “It’s become more of something I can go to and everyone there I know is nice and is accepting. That’s the thing that’s different from other groups. Just being able to have everyone there knowing we all support each other is definitely important and has helped me a lot in high school,” Sloan mused. 

When asked about advice he would give to students who want to be like him, Sloan emphasized to be anything but that: “Aspire to be the better version of yourself; don’t try to be like me. Being your better self is better than trying to be somebody else.”

In the fall, Sloan will continue his academic and musical career at Denison University, majoring in global commerce with a minor in music performance. 

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About the Contributor
Gianna Longo
Gianna Longo, Managing Editor
Hey there! My name’s Gianna, and I’m a member of the Class of 2025, along with many clubs here at LHS. In my spare time, you can find me on the stage, in the music wing, at my dance studio, or writing and editing for Horizon. Happy reading!