ARLINGTON— Arlington High School senior Jacob Aylesworth will be starting his freshman year at the University of Washington in the fall, but this summer, he’ll be taking a historic trip to China.
Aylesworth is one of 600 high school and college musicians from America who will be part of a group of 2,008 student musicians, from 40 countries around the world, at the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
“I’ll be playing the sousaphone,” said Aylesworth, whose road to the Olympics began a few months ago when the UW band director spotted him at a solo and ensemble musical contest at the school.
“He adjudicated my performance,” Aylesworth said. “One of his guys had to back out of the trip, so he called my band teacher and said he’d like me to play in the Olympic marching band in China.”
Aylesworth has to prepare himself mentally for the July 29-Aug. 12 trip, by memorizing 16 pages of sheet music, including the Olympic melody. He must also prepare physically, by building up his endurance to shoulder, literally, the 40-pound weight of the sousaphone.
“It weighs almost all on one shoulder, so you have to work into it,” said Aylesworth, whose practice schedule also includes intense drill sessions with students throughout the state. “Before we leave, our marching has to be perfect. There’s going to be 600 of us Americans working within 2,008 musicians from around the world, so all of our performances have to be very precise.”
Another step Aylesworth has had to take is obtaining his visa and passport, since this will be his first-ever trip outside the country.
“I think it’ll be a good experience,” Aylesworth said. “I’ll try to learn a little of the language before I go. Since I’ve never been out of the U.S., I’m looking forward to experiencing the culture, eating different food and seeing the sights, like the Great Wall and the Summer Palace in Shanghai.”
With three group rehearsals behind him as of press time, Aylesworth is feeling confident about his performances to come, and looks at them the same way he does his future career field.
“I enjoy a challenge,” said Aylesworth, who will be majoring in engineering at UW. “I don’t want to get bored. Engineering is always changing and it can give us a better environment and a better life.”