Pierz senior will not die with his music still in him

Preston Weber will attend the U of M with the help of two scholarships

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them.”

This will never happen to Pierz senior Preston Weber. He is letting that music out, tenfold.

While admittedly Weber loves the oboe the best, he also plays nine other instruments which include the piano, drums, banjo, tenor saxophone, clarinet and guitar fairly well. He said he dabbles in playing the trumpet, mandolin and bassoon.

Pierz senior Preston Weber, the son of Brenda and Frank Weber, will be attending the University of Minnesota Music School in the fall. He currently plays 10 instruments, with the oboe as his favorite. Weber’s plans included a possible music education degree for kindergarten through 12th grade. He is pictured in his music room at his home in Pierz with his banjo, drums and saxophone.

“I like the style of music offered with concert band the best,” he said. “I enjoy classical music and the oboe fits in with that. I play the piano in the jazz band at school and the tenor sax with the St. Cloud Jazz Band.”

Weber will be attending the University of Minnesota this fall with the help of two scholarships.

The Maroon and Gold Scholarship is  academic-based and the top one offered by the University. It’s given to a mere eight freshmen (6,500 applied for the scholarship) and provides for full tuition plus some fees or living expenses. The second was based on both an oboe audition for the school of music and an interview with the administrators which assessed Weber’s ability as a musician. It is for the music department only and does not pay for everything. He will be applying for other scholarships.

Weber began his music career in first grade.

“My parents made me take piano lessons,” said Weber. “It wasn’t my idea and after a couple of years, I wanted to give it up. But, they told me to stick with it and after a couple of more years, I really began to like music and opted to continue.”

In fifth grade, Weber joined the band at Pierz. Since the piano was not available there, he took up the drums.

In the sixth grade, he wanted to learn the tenor sax. So, he took lessons and played that, along with the drums, in band.

In seventh grade, he took up the guitar, taking lessons at the St. Francis Music Center in Little Falls.

“I thought the guitar would be cool,” he said. “But I wanted to keep up with all my other instruments, too, so I took piano, saxophone and drum lessons during the summer from the former Pierz music director Jonathan LaFlamme.”

While most kids would have quit long before learning four instruments, Weber decided he wanted to be more involved by learning a more difficult instrument for concert band. He said the drums were just not doing it for him. Nor was the saxophone.

“I was able to take oboe lessons from Dr. Andrea Fedele, the St. Cloud State oboe professor,” said Weber. “LaFlamme said he wanted an oboe in the concert band and I continued with it from eighth grade to now.”

“The oboe is an important instrument in concert band and in classical music,” he said. “I like the challenge of the oboe. It’s a double reeded instrument and more difficult than a saxophone to control.”

Weber said an oboe player needs strong throat and facial muscles to create more force behind the air flow, yet keep it controlled.

The $30 – $40 cane reeds Weber needs to purchase for the saxophone don’t always give him the sound he wants. He has been known to adjust the double reed by clipping the tip with a razor or by thinning the cane with a special knife.

“By thinning different areas, I can achieve different results,” he said.

There came a time when the Weber household was overflowing with instruments. His parents opted to build an addition to the house, creating a music room. The colors are bright, yet the room has a soothing feel to it. On one wall, the words, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” which seems to be part of Weber’s philosophy.

“Playing all the instruments is not exhausting. It’s something I love to do and it’s fun,” he said.

From ninth grade to now, Weber added the other five instruments.

Weber also composes music, and not just for the instruments he plays. His first composition was played at the Pierz Healy High School 2011 Spring Concert.

“I composed a piece, ‘Conquest and Triumph,’ for every instrument in the band, he said. “I was able to conduct both some of the practices and during the concert.”

“Conquest and Triumph” took second place in the  Minnesota Music Educators Association state competition in the wind instrument division.

For the 2012 Spring Concert, he has composed another piece, but has yet to name it. He said he will have to concentrate on that task as the concert is Monday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Brenda, Weber’s mother, said it seemed as if last year’s composition was the defining moment when her son decided what he wanted to do with his life.

“It’s so neat to have all the resources we do in this little community,” she said. “LaFlamme was very instrumental in guiding, teaching and challenging Preston.”

Weber has played the oboe with the Windfest Symphony at St. Cloud State, the tenor saxophone with the St. Cloud All Star Jazz Band and the banjo at various assisted living and nursing homes in the area.

Other teachers in Weber’s life include Bruce Pederson, the Pierz Elementary School band teacher who is also a professional jazz band drummer, Celo V’ec from the St. Francis Music Center and Nathan Blinn, the current music teacher at Pierz Healy High School.

Besides his passion for music, Weber also is involved with sports. He plays football, basketball and track and field.

“I try to use my time well and be as productive as I can to get as much done as possible,” he said.

Weber has two older siblings, Shane and Nicolette.