Nederland students, director share passion behind prestigious All–State honors

Published 12:20 am Sunday, January 28, 2024

NEDERLAND — Jhon Olimba and Barrett Placette are the types of musicians all band directors dream about in their band, according to Nederland High School band director Gary Janecek.

“They are dedicated students who have spent countless hours honing their craft. They are not only outstanding on their instruments but are also outstanding students in the classroom. I am proud to say they are a product of NISD (Nederland Independent School District),” Janecek said.

The proud band director is cheering on Olimba and Placette, both seniors, who earned spots in the Texas Music Educators Association All-State Band; Olimba on trumpet and Placette on percussion.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Olimba’s and Placette’s journeys include dedication, perseverance and many hours of practice to perfect their skills.

Placette has been a percussionist for seven years. In order to prepare for where he is today he tried to regulate his practice time, trying not to overwhelm himself especially with all of his school work, as well as mentally being under control while also having confidence.

Olimba played the trumpet for six years and took private lessons with professional players, practicing every day after school to prepare, he said.

Janecek put the students’ honors into perspective.

“To earn a spot in the All-State band means you are in the top 1 percent of all high school students that are in band in the entire state of Texas,” the band director said. “The first step in the process of making the All-State band is the Region audition, where they compete against schools from our local area. You have to place high enough in this audition to advance to the next round, called Area.

“In the Area round, they compete with students from all over the Houston area. If you place high enough in this audition then you’ve made the All-State band. Jhon placed third on trumpet and Barrett placed first on percussion in the band.”

Most musicians have a passion for music, something that drives them to be the very best they can be.

Placette and Olimba spoke of theirs.

“I definitely do have a passion for music and I would say it is what I am most passionate about,” Placette said. “I’m really just driven by the enjoyment I get from being able to create music through an instrument and the sort of energy that comes from being a player, whether it’s in a group or as a soloist.

Olimba’s driving force is that music is fun to listen to and play, he said.

“Being able to play a variety of songs is what lets me enjoy music for what it is,” Olimba added.

Olimba, a National Honors Society member, plans to attend Stephen F. Austin State University or Lamar University to earn a degree in music education. This will allow him to teach others how to play music as well as enjoy music, he said.

Placette plans to attend Lamar University and major in mechanical engineering, though he will still try to be a member of the Lamar Wind Ensemble because the best part of being a percussionist was being part of the symphonic band, he said.

Placette was this year’s drumline captain. He also played basketball for two years, was involved in the National Honor Society and multiple honors classes with the hopes to gain as much credit as possible going to his future as a college student.

Olimba thanks God for achieving All-State Band and his family, friends and band directors for the support they’ve given him.

Placette said he is truly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the greatest music organization in the state of Texas and to represent his school.

He thanked those who supported him through all of the great, stressful and annoying things.

The two students are traveling to San Antonio Feb. 6-10 to attend the TMEA Convention. Janecek said more than 25,000 music educators and students attend this convention.

“Our two students will rehearse with the 5A Symphonic Band with students from all over the state.  They will be conducted by Nicholas Williams, who is the conductor of the University of Georgia bands,” Janecek said. “They will perform a concert in Downtown San Antonio at the Lila Cockwell Theater Feb. 10.”