FPC’s Frankie Garcia Picked to Join U.S. Army’s All-American Marching Band
FlaglerLive | November 17, 2011
It’s an honor reserved for just 125 high school senior band musicians once a year. They’re chosen from across the nation (there were 1,234 nominations this year). They’re flown to San Antonio for an all-expenses paid week of rehearsals and whatever fun and tourism can be squeezed in between. And on Jan. 7, the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band performs before a national television audience (intrusive ads notwithstanding) during the half-time show of the annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which puts the nation’s best high school football players, east versus west.
This year, Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Frankie Garcia, a piccolo and flute player (he was chosen for the piccolo) was one of the 125—a first for the high school or the county in the bowl’s decade history. The school announced the honor in a celebratory ceremony this morning at the Flagler Auditorium.
“We were on vacation in Virginia in a little cabin with hardly any service for the computer,” Garcia’s mother, Rebecca O’Shane, said of the day in mid-July when the family found out he’d been chosen. “We kept trying to find it and trying to find it, messing with the service. This was in July. We finally opened got the email on a Friday. I was like, what, do you want to open it? And he just pushed the button and we started screaming, because he was accepted.” Shane Wood, Garcia’s stepfather, was outside the cabin and worried something had gone drastically wrong when he first heard the screaming.
It was all good.
“My main inspiration, how I went to strive for it,” Garcia said, “was like, freshman and sophomore year, a couple of upper-classmen would always say that I wouldn’t make it. That I’m not good enough. I don’t know, that’s just how people were. They were like, ‘No, no, no, you’re not going to do this.’ So I was, like, OK, tell me I’m not, and I’m going to. And I did. Every time somebody tells me I can’t do something, I do it.” He credits his teachers—primarily John Seth, his band teacher at the high school, who nominated him for the all-American band, but also Steve Knob, the band teacher who resigned at Matanzas High School and Indian Trails Middle School (where he taught Garcia) last month over a policy breach. Garcia had nothing but raves for Knob as a teacher.
“I have a long line of family members who have served in the military including two great-grandfathers, a grandfather, two uncles, a cousin and my brother,” Garcia said in one of the audition recordings he sent the army. His brother, Gabriel Garcia, 21, has been deployed in Iraq since May with the famed 82nd Airborne. He was due back by Christmas, part of the withdrawal from Iraq promised by Barack Obama, but his return is delayed until January.
Frankie will be off to San Antonio immediately after New Year’s, though he’ll most likely travel by himself, a first so far away from home for so long. His family isn’t in a position to splurge for the costly stay. He has a sister, Sabrina, a junior and clarinetist in the same band at Flagler Palm Coast High School (she’ll be trying out for the all-American band when she’s a senior), and Sydney Wood, in elementary school.
Frankie Garcia Video Introduction to the All-American Band
Speak to him just a few moments about his music and you discover that it’s not a hobby or an afterschool thing: it’s who he is, what he wants to do and be. He describes music as “a way of life, it shows them there’s more to life than just being there. Like, most high school students who aren’t in sports and are in music are just kind of there and haven’t yet found their path. This is a path of life you can do more than just be a person.” He’s expressive when he plays, too—or composes, though he hasn’t done much of that. His “Aztec Rain,” written several years ago, a short piece he composed in eighth grade, manages to be surprisingly lyrical for the work of a young adolescent. He also plays every Saturday with the Volusia Community Symphony in DeLand and performs periodically with the Flagler Youth Orchestra.
He wants to be a band teacher in high school—specifically, he wants to return to Flagler Palm Coast High School and teach there (hear that John?) for 10 or 15 years, earn his master’s and doctorate along the way, and eventually graduate to band leader in college. Meanwhile, he’ll try to get into the Army—but only if he’s accepted in the Army band. If the Army tells him he has to do something else for a while, he’ll opt for college in Florida instead.
He now has the credentials to attract the attention of any college band. He also made the All-State symphonic band playing the flute last year. Oh, yes: the piccolo is just one of his two instruments.
Going from fifth grade to sixth grade, Garcia remembers, one of his teachers had done “Stomp” at his elementary school and caught his interest in music. “I started playing flute because that’s what Shane played in high school,” he says of Shane Wood, his step-father. “He didn’t make me. He inspired me.”
Just as his step-father inspired him, he now inspires Sabrina. “If you ever watch him play he plays with so much emotion, and he just knows how to read his music and know what to play and know how to make it come to life,” she says. “He basically hounded me until I got everything right.” But there’s no rivalry between the two. “He’s basically my best friend. We’re really close, and people always like are, I can never be that close to my brother, how are you guys that close, I’m like, because we understand each other.”
“We’ve gone through so much together,” Frankie says.
“We have this understanding, and we’ve always been there for each other and we’re basically each other’s rock,” Sabrina says, words that amount to a different sort of music to their parents’ ears, those veteran ears that have heard a few million notes in Frankie’s years.
“I’m excited, I’m so proud. It’s really hard being a parent listening to flute and piccolo in a tile-floored house,” his mother said. “It takes a lot of patience. I’ve told everybody I’m so glad to have that patience to let him practice so he can get to this point, because I know a lot of parents don’t have that patience and it holds the kids down.”