BRIGHT FUTURES — Port Neches-Groves senior Shelby Balsano excels in band, percussion

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, January 14, 2020

PORT NECHES — Tap, tap, tap of a foot. Tap, tap, tap of a hand. Shelby Balsano taps along to the rhythm in his head strumming the silent melody against his knee as his foot strikes the floor in turn.

Balsano is a senior at Port Neches-Groves High School, band president and a percussionist. His nervous habit of hands always fluttering and feet always tapping turned out to be bottled up talent ready to flourish.

It was a habit that was silenced the day he was handed a drumstick.

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“In fifth grade, when we tried out for band we went through all these different instruments,” he said. “One day, we finally got to percussion and my mom immediately told the band director that’s where I belonged. Since day one, it clicked. That’s what I loved doing and I knew that was what I wanted to do forever.”

Balsano started playing percussion in the Groves Middle School band, where he received all-region honors two years in a row. PNG band director Alex Wells said Balsano has been on his radar ever since.

“(Balsano) auditioned for our top band, Wind Ensemble, his freshman year and did outstanding,” he said. “He was a freshman in our varsity band, which is very rare and he held his own. He has been a leader ever since.”

Balsano became band president last year, a position he was elected to by his peers.

“Originally, I didn’t expect to be nominated,” he said. “Then people started to tell me they were voting for me and it surprised me.”

Wells said he believes Balsano was elected because of his giving spirit and musical ability.

“I know most students respect his music ability but on the other side of that, he truly does care about other students,” he said. “I think that spirit of servitude is what they really respect the most. We’re going to miss him next year and somebody is going to have some big shoes to fill.”
Balsano said he simply tries to help anyone he can.

“I can put my problems aside for people,” he said. “It’s always what I’ve liked doing. I like putting people first. I love seeing people get better and showing them that challenges don’t have to be a negative thing. They can build you up and make you better. I love seeing people want to get better and seeing them accomplish those goals.”

In his four-year tenure as a member of the Indian Band and Jazz Band, Balsano has exceled in several competitions, receiving first chair all region and placing third in area two years in a row.

He also advanced to state for solo and ensemble his junior year, a goal he hopes to repeat this February.

“I love getting new pieces, new challenges, learning and playing them,” he said. “The challenge of learning them is what keeps me going, that, and the competition. I’ve always gone by the quote, ‘proud but never satisfied.’ I’ve always been proud of what I’ve done but I always want to continue to strive and be greater.”

After graduation, Balsano said he plans on attending Lamar University to study musical education.

“I want to help people with music,” he said. “I love music and that’s where I want to be. I want to see people achieve their goals.”