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Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

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Humans of Harker: Playing songs of happiness

Ben Cha finds his place in soccer and jazz
“I love talking to people and just going up to random people saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going’ and helping them out. I’ve learned about the social skills that come with being a leader and being able to make sure that other people know what they’re doing and feel comfortable doing what they’re doing,” Ben Cha (12) said. (Angelina Burrows)

Hands grasping a microphone, Ben Cha (12) looks toward the blinding lights of the Rothschild Performing Arts Center. Though he performed with Jazz Band many times before, this show was different. Instead of playing his usual instrument, the saxophone, he would be singing “Fly me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra, his first time ever singing before a crowd. Right before his signal to start, Ben nervously glanced back at his bandmates. After a few nods of encouragement, he began to sing.

“It was a short, small group chart that I did with a couple of friends last year,” Ben said. “And I sang for the first time ever, which was quite interesting, heart racing, adrenaline pumping. But it was super awesome, and that was one of my favorite memories.”

Inspired to first take up an instrument by his family, Ben’s first taste of jazz began from a young age sparked by his siblings’ passion for music. 

“I have a very musical family, I always grew up with music, so I just loved music in general,” Ben said. “I especially like jazz music. It’s always awesome to go and play and hear songs in person. Especially because it’s not everyday that you just can go and see a live concert. Jazz Band provides that.”

As a fellow Jazz Band member, Jack Yang (12) acknowledges Ben’s musical skill. First noticing Ben’s musical talent in middle school, Jack sees Ben as a leader of Jazz Band.  

“When I first think of Ben, he’s super talented at music,” Jack said. “He can basically play any pop song on the piano right after listening to it. His saxophone solos are super good, I feel like his rhythm is always on point. He’s really steady when he plays so we can all play off of him. When I think of him, I think of how talented he is at music.”

Though self-assured and at ease now while performing, Ben’s comfort on stage is the product of performing at countless shows, which led him to overcome his initial stage fright and transform into the performer he is today. Now, Ben plays to his heart’s content without feeling constricted by fear. 

“I kept putting myself in front of a crowd and exploring what it’s like to be not part of the audience, but on the stage,” Ben said. “Just taking opportunity after opportunity was how I got over my fear of the stage.”

Performing on stage and immersing himself in the daily atmosphere of drums, trumpets, bases and saxophones was only a facet of what made jazz so appealing to Ben. The community and atmosphere he feels while playing is what makes being part of a band so compelling. 

“I feel like Jazz Band, the environment, the community, it’s really supportive and energetic,” Ben said. “I really admire that, and I always have. If you’re ever interested in a more laid back environment, in finding a new interest, or playing some great tunes, Jazz Band is definitely the way to go. I’ve made a lot of my friends there.” 

Beyond music, the connectivity and support he feels from the Harker soccer team helped cement his identity. Having been on a competitive club team for soccer before, the encouraging and relaxed environment acts as a refreshing foundation to rely on compared to the cutthroat competitive nature of his old club. 

“For soccer, the most rewarding part, at least from what I’ve learned, is actually just the team bonding experience,” Ben said. “I really enjoy practicing with the team. Honestly, I’d say I enjoy practicing with the team more than actually playing games, just because it’s a lot more of a supportive environment.”

Ben fondly reminisces the time his team lifted his spirits after he felt responsible for letting a goal in. As a key defensive player, Ben initially blamed himself, but the words of encouragement from his team brought him back from his spiraling thoughts.

“I don’t really recall if we actually did end up winning the game,” Ben said. “But that was an awesome experience for me because in club soccer, it was a lot more focused on winning or losing, instead of more of a team building exercises. I feel that when I’ve started playing with the school team, they’ve been a lot more supportive of me.”

After meeting Ben in middle school, Ryan Barth (12) admires the attitude he brings as both a teammate and a close friend. 

“He’s a generally happy person, he just exudes happiness,” Ryan said. “He makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel at home. He can carry a conversation and can talk with anyone so you always feel comfortable when you’re with him.”

Ben’s character translates into the classroom too, where he finds moments to bond with his fellow classmates. 

“He’s smart, pretty easygoing, fairly cheerful and seems to enjoy his class,” mathematics teacher Dana Lieberman said. “He was great at helping other kids in the class.”

Spreading his joyful mentality beyond his school community, Ben brings his work ethic to his local food kitchen. A few years ago, Ben earned the title as a “green aproner,” a mentor for new volunteers to help them adjust to their different roles and learn efficiency.

“I love talking to people and just going up to random people saying, ‘Hey, how’s it going’ and helping them out,” Ben said. “I’ve learned about the social skills that come with being a leader and being able to make sure that other people know what they’re doing and feel comfortable doing what they’re doing.”

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About the Contributor
Angelina Burrows, TALON Co-Sports Editor
Angelina Burrows (11) is the co-sports editor for the TALON Yearbook, and this is her third year on staff. This year, Angelina hopes to build up confidence in her writing style and offer more ideas in group discussions. In her free time, she likes listening to music and sketching in her math notebook.

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