Music is universal. It’s instrumental in most people’s lives and brings happiness, helps them express themselves and their feelings and connects them to others.
Gull Lake High School has a wide range of musical students as Band, Jazz Band and Guitar are all popular electives. Gull Lake has many musically talented students, some of whom stand out. Senior Joel Kupstas is one of those students.
Kupstas is involved. From participation in Quiz Bowl to the high school Symphonic Band, Kupstas also proves to be a driven student, taking multiple advanced classes, including A.P. Biology, A.P. Calculus, A.P. English Literature and many others. His talent as a musician comes from his passion for playing and learning music. He has mastered both the piano and the trumpet.
In addition to his participation in the high school band, Kupstas is a member of the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, an elite ensemble that handpicks the top musicians from high schools in the Kalamazoo area. The Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra has a rich history and is currently in its 77th season, making it the oldest junior symphony in the country.
“I play trumpet in the High School Symphonic Band and Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra, and I play piano recreationally,” Kupstas said.
He has been playing the piano for eleven years and the trumpet for seven. While his parents are not musical, his sister has also found success and joy in music. She plays the clarinet, piano and saxophone and is majoring in Music Performance at John Hopkins University.
Kupstas is motivated by his love for music and also his competitive nature. The members in his band and within his orchestra provide stiff competition, which helps to encourage him to strive for success.
“The competition, in all honesty, is my main motivation. I seek to be the best I can be, and the best in the ensembles I participate in,” Kupstas said.
Music can be found in nearly all aspects of his life. In orchestra, he plays romantic and classical tunes and in band he plays mainly folk and
neoclassical. However, outside of that, he listens to many different types of music. He said that listening to different styles inspire him to improve his own music.
“I like to listen to a broad array of music. I prefer alternative, rock, jazz, classical or romantic, but I can listen to blues or bluegrass too. Absolutely no rap or country, though,” Kupstas said. “Listening to professionals really inspires me. Their technique and finesse inspire me to create music and to better my own playing.”
Kupstas plans on continuing his musical journey after high school. While he is unsure of where he plans to attend college, he knows that he plans on participating in marching band, pep band and concert bands that his college offers. [pullquote]Along with school organized music, I hope to participate in a smaller ensemble with some of my friends during and after college. [/pullquote]Outside of school, he plans on continuing his music playing recreationally with friends.
“I believe music will continue to play a very significant role in my life as I transition from high school to college, and hopefully after that as well,” Kupstas said.
Kupstas recently took part in an European Tour. The organization Voyagers International sends a band and choir on tour every other summer, which Joel was lucky enough to be able to attend. He was nominated by his band director, which he happily accepted. The trip helped him to understand music better.
He said this trip was his most meaningful musical experience.
“The trip helped me define what I believed music to be. It helped me realize how much my playing effects my audience and how much music means to almost everyone,” Kupstas said.
Since his musical talents have allowed him to participate in elite ensembles and visit different parts of the world, he said he continues to improve and remain an active member of the community.