He’s Got Chops

Meet Theo DiBiasi, a NASH senior who has earned a spot on the All-State Jazz Band for three years straight.

When did you find your passion for music?

My love for music really started in eighth grade. My middle school band director Mr. Pisani was the one who got me more into jazz and soloing. I always credit him for my love of jazz and music. I would not have taken off without him.

Was trumpet your first choice of instrument?

Yep! I looked at other instruments in 3rd grade, such as the saxophone, and I also looked at percussion, but trumpet was my first choice and I ended up just sticking with it.

What other instruments do you play?

I am able to play the marimba, some guitar, and drums.

It is impressive how you have won the All-State Jazz Band award three years in a row. How were you able to reach this accomplishment?

Lots of practice and listening. When I look back on it, I think I listened to jazz way more than practiced it. When you actively listen to jazz, you’re practicing in a different way.

How does it feel to be granted such an incredible award?

When I first made it in 10th grade, it was amazing. I was told I wouldn’t make it by multiple people, and it felt good to prove them wrong. The other two times it was more about just defending my title. I ended up making it all three years you could which almost never happens.

Do you plan on continuing music in college?

Not as a major. A lot of people were surprised when I said I didn’t want to go to school for music. It is definitely one of the hardest majors and hardest to find jobs. I do plan to keep playing throughout college, just not as a music major. During college and out of college I plan to keep playing with local big bands and keep swinging. I’ve put so much effort and time into my music that I would be a fool to let it all go to waste.

Where are you going to college?

I will be going to Grove City College in the fall of 2021.

Who are your musical inspirations?

Clifford Brown and Count Basie. Clifford Brown is one of my biggest trumpet inspirations. His music has heavily influenced my playing and that’s really how I got so good. Same with Count Basie and listening to him and his orchestra. When you actively listen and play along with the greats, that’s how you get good. Someone can try to teach you how to swing, but no one can do it as well as some earbuds and clicking shuffle on a good jazz playlist.

Favorite jazz album?

Clifford Brown and Max Roach by far. With standards like “Daahoud” and “Jordu,” this album is one of my favorite of all time. I would do anything to get an old vinyl of this album.

What advice would you give young musicians wanting to achieve All-State when they reach high school?

Listen, listen some more, listen a little more, then play. When you listen to the greats, you start to play like them. Good jazz musicians just play the notes on the page. Amazing jazz musicians play the notes from the recordings.

Where do you see yourself in music in the future?

I want to keep playing through college and hopefully play gigs for the rest of my life.

What motivates you to continue improving in music?

It’s always been my life and what I’m known for. It’s not that I feel pressured to stay one of the best musicians in high school, but I just feel like I always have been and can’t imagine not being the same way. Without music, my whole high school career looks blank.

What one song must everyone add to their playlist?

“Lil’ Darling” by Count Basie and his orchestra. The song is so relaxed, laid back, and just a masterpiece. The trumpet solo in it is absolutely amazing. If you want to close your eyes and just relax, this is the song for you.