Humans of Harker: Bobby Schick thrives on jazz

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Melissa Kwan

“One of our players, Floyd [Gordon (12)], made a touchdown during the game, so we were playing some crazy stuff, and then he got injured like on the next play," Bobby Schick (12) said. "So I just got up and started playing ‘Lean On Me’ because I knew how to play it on piano, and I put on saxophone for a second. I started playing it, and our entire section started humming along as they carried him off the field. That was one of those moments where I was like, ‘Wow. Okay. I realize what you can do just by playing a song.’"

by Aditya Singhvi, Reporter

Bobby Schick plays during every football game — though not out on the field. Instead, with him on saxophone, the pep band he co-founded supports the team through their home games.

“Usually every Homecoming, there’s a pep band, and that’s always the Jazz Band that plays,” Bobby said. “Everyone always likes it, but it’s the only game we ever play [for]. So all the parents always said, ‘Oh, why don’t we have those pep bands for every game?’ So this year, I finally talked to Alex [Osorio, upper school technician] and we were like, ‘Okay. Well, we’re going to do that. If no one else wants to play with us, we’ll just play by ourselves.’”

Bobby picked up the saxophone in 4th grade simply because he wanted a way to create the music he liked. He discovered he had a natural aptitude for music and has continued playing since.

“I remember one time that we were getting him ready for an audition and I was doubling the parts and out of nowhere, he just started soloing,” said Osorio, Bobby’s music teacher and mentor since 4th grade. “I was so amazed that I stopped playing. I didn’t even realize that I had stopped playing. I had just started listening to him because I couldn’t believe that was the little guy, pretty much all grown up now. It was crazy for me.”

Bobby tailors his music to reflect the emotions in the crowd.

“For the pep band stuff, all the stuff we play — there’s a reason for it,” Bobby said. “When we’re trying to get everyone amped up to play, we play something amped up. When we’re trying to calm everyone down because it’s something crazy we try to play some calming thing.”

One emotionally charged incident stands out in his mind.

“One of our players, Floyd [Gordon (12)], made a touchdown during the game, so we were playing some crazy stuff, and then he got injured like on the next play,” Bobby said. “So I just got up and started playing ‘Lean On Me’ because I knew how to play it on piano, and I put on saxophone for a second. I started playing it, and our entire section started humming along as they carried him off the field. That was one of those moments where I was like, ‘Wow. Okay. I realize what you can do just by playing a song.’ And then, a few plays later, he got back on the field and started playing again, and he thanked me after.”

Bobby has loves the freedom that comes with playing jazz — a genre of music that defies stage fright and preaches self-acceptance.

“I know that when I go up there, I’m going to do something that is me, and that’s all that matters. I don’t even care if people really like it, to be honest. It’s more that I play what I want to play rather than something that is written down,” Bobby said. “That’s why I like jazz, because you don’t have to play some written out solo like in other styles of music. You can play whatever you want and that opens up a lot of flexibility in what you want to do. You can really show yourself through that music versus other styles.”

The improvisation and unpredictability of music are the same factors that draw him to baseball, a sport he has played for eight years.

“I like the suspense of waiting, and the fact that there’s an infinite possibility of plays that you can make,” he said. “It’s the same reason I like music. [For] both things, it’s like there’s never a set rule of what’s actually going to happen, because anything can happen, and anything will happen; so, you have to be ready for everything.”

This theme of preparedness carries over into other aspects of Bobby’s life.

“When there’s something I like and I want to talk about it, I kind of just get excited about it and I really want to do that thing,” he said. “I have this thing that some of my friends get annoyed by — is where, it happens a lot in video games we play — because when we start doing something and I like it, I’ll get into it. I’ll get so into it that I learn everything. Like with my friend Shayer — we play a game called Civilization, where you build your own civilization. He has 200 hours in the game, I have about 50, but I can beat him, super easily. Just because, when we started playing Civ, I was like, ‘Okay, I need to know what I’m doing,’ so I went and watched videos and I learned doing it in my free time and when I was doing homework I’d be watching Civs strategy guys. And now every time we play a Civs game, everyone fears me now because I can destroy all of them.”

His friend Sunny Jayam (12) can testify to that statement.

“I started calling them phases,” Sunny said of Bobby’s stints with video games. “Right now he’s in a League of Legends phase, but he did have a [Civilization 5] phase over the summer where he researched every single civilization and all the [strategies]. He’d always win.”

Although Bobby’s intense focus on a single topic occasionally frustrates his friends, Bobby says that winning is merely a side effect of his drive to understand.

“I don’t say I like winning, I just like knowing what I’m doing,” Bobby said. “I don’t like being the person who goes in there blind and is like ‘Oh, I’ll just try to figure it out.’ I kind of like having the prior knowledge and being prepared.”