Junior Makes All-State Band


Junior Leor Arbel poses for a picture outside his home on February 2, 2020.

Yoonsoo (Seth) Choi, News Editor

Junior Leor Arbel, who plays the trombone, was selected for the All-State Band after a rigorous audition process. The Texas Music Educators Association has yet to announce whether or not the All-State band will perform virtually at this year’s convention on February 11-13.

“A dream come true,” Arbel said. “My friend called me to let me know I made All-State, and I thought he was making a joke. I didn’t believe it at first.”

Arbel’s All-State dreams were a long time in the making. He began playing the trombone in middle school.

“When the instrument tryouts were happening, my initial choice was the trumpet because back in elementary we always heard the Nutcracker, and [my music teacher] told us that the main part was played on the trumpet,” Arbel said. “So they tried me on the trumpet, but there was a small discrepancy with my embouchure (face muscles) and air flow. Then they said that the trombone would be better for me. So I tried it out, and it was alright.”

Arbel made the region band twice in middle school and was first chair, leading his trombone section, in eighth grade. But he also had setbacks. In eight grade, he received a two at the solo and ensemble contest. The highest score possible is a one. 

“I thought about quitting,” Arbel said. “It was hard to find motivation to practice, but I was determined. Now, I find myself practicing everyday.”

Practicing paid off, and he received a one at the solo and ensemble contest in high school, made the freshman region band his freshman year and advanced to area last year. He also joined the Houston Youth Symphony as part of the Sinfonia ensemble. 

“We’ve been doing in-person [Sinfonia] rehearsals for the past two months,” Arbel said. “It’s very socially distanced and spread out. I haven’t really gotten any orchestral experience since my freshman year, so once I made the Houston Youth Symphony, I was really excited to get back into orchestral repertoire. It was fun meeting new people and connecting with old friends.”

Arbel made new friends when he attended the TMEA convention last year as well. They were trombone players from all across the state. 

Arbel said he loved exploring the instrument vendors for hours, trying out different instruments and watching the concerts.

“I saw the concert band, symphonic band and a little bit of the philharmonic orchestra,” Arbel said. “Last was the symphony and they played Shostakovich’s 10th symphony. It was insane. Overall, one of the best days of my life.”

One of his friends from the TMEA convention reached out to him and asked if he wanted to be in a group chat full of trombone players who played video games every night.

Soon after, concerts and music competitions came to a screeching halt due to COVID-19.

“I went days without practicing,” Arbel said. “But my group of friends were always encouraging each other. We’re all each other’s competition. The way I saw it was that everyday I wasn’t practicing, they were getting better without me.”

So Arbel started practicing again for hours everyday and saw his work pay off this school year as restrictions were lifted, and he was selected as a drill instructor for marching band.

“It was a little harder to get some people motivated because of the circumstances,” Arbel said. “I just strived for positive vibes. There’s no reason to put in less effort just because there are restrictions.”

After graduating, Arbel plans on majoring in music and is looking at the University of Texas at Austin and New England Conservatory. 

“There is no language that is as powerful as music,” Arbel said.