Nicolas Gonzalez, a True Trombone Virtuoso


Kelly Ritenour

Nicolas Gonzalez practices the keyboard during lunch.

In the sixth grade, Nicolas Gonzalez had no idea that the trombone mouthpiece his band director let him mess with would lead him on a journey all the way to first chair in the state. He never would have predicted his passion for music and music teaching, nor the family he gained from the tight-knit Menchville Band.

Gonzalez first fell in love with the trombone in the sixth grade after toying with the possibility of other instruments like trumpet and French horn. He settled on trombone, and by his sophomore year of high school, Gonzalez knew he wanted to pursue trombone playing as a real career.

This year, as a senior, Gonzalez auditioned for the All-Virginia Orchestra and won the spot of first chair trombone. “It was kind of surreal,” says Gonzalez, describing the moment he found out the results of his audition. “I did put a lot of work into that audition, so that’s what I was hoping for. Checking the results, I kind of went numb.”

On March 20th, Gonzalez also performed a solo with the Bay Youth Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble made up of talented students from Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, and Norfolk.

Band Director Deborah Sarvay is very proud of Gonzalez- “He’s an absolutely awesome musician. His playing abilities have just gone from normal high school kid to a professional. He is the best trombone player I have ever had in thirty years of teaching. I foresee him playing with some major symphonies and orchestras.”

In his years of playing trombone, Gonzalez has especially enjoyed playing in the Menchville Band. “Everyone is very open with each other, and it’s definitely like a second family away from home,” describes Gonzalez. “I feel like being in a band taught me to be very punctual and how to manage my time better. The first day we came in, Mrs. Sarvay taught us ‘early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.’ She’s helped me to become a better person. She doesn’t bite, contrary to popular belief,” laughs Gonzalez. “She definitely made me a better person and a better musician.”

Gonzalez has big dreams for his music career. Not only does he hope to play in a major symphony, but he also wants to give back to the music world by teaching young musicians. Gonzalez discovered his love of teaching music through the music honors society volunteer program, where he tutored students from Gildersleeve.

Although Gonzalez is nervous about graduating Menchville, he is excited for the future. He has decided to pursue a degree in trombone performance in college. “I decided pretty early that I wanted to pursue the trombone. I really can’t see myself doing anything else, so that’s where that push was.” So far, Gonzalez been accepted by Old Dominion University, Shenandoah Conservatory, the Manhattan School of Music, and Peabody Institute. “I’m nervous because I’ve done stuff where I’ve been on my own before, but I have a pretty good connection with my family, so that’s gonna be really difficult [being away from them at college], but I’m sure I’ll manage,” Gonzalez confides. His closest experience to college was attending the Summer Residential Governor’s School for the Visual and Performing Arts at Radford last summer. “It’s a music intensive program where you’re playing all day,” says the senior. “It has a very college vibe.”

Moving forward, Gonzalez reflects on his high school experience and gives his advice to future students: “Balance your time and actually apply yourself. I learned that you really do need to apply yourself if you want to succeed. Freshmen and sophomore year I was kind of slacking off and not doing too well. I’ve picked it up these last two years and things are going well.”