Haddonfield High’s Banks Sapnar shows he’s a man of many talents

Multifaceted senior not content with simply tooting own horn

Haddonfield High senior Banks Sapnar posing with his trusty trumpet

While most seniors are content to ride out their final year of high school doing what they’ve always loved — until the inevitable “senior slide” commences — Haddonfield’s Banks Sapnar is charging full-speed ahead.

At the most recent Board of Education meeting on Oct. 29, Sapnar was commended for his selection to the national jazz band for his proficiency with the trumpet, believed to be the first student from Haddonfield Memorial High School to be so honored.

“It’s the National Association for Music Education, they hold honors ensembles every year. They have a jazz band, they have a choir. In the jazz band, they select five trumpet players from around the country who audition for it, and I got selected,” he explained. “I’ve been playing the trumpet since fourth grade.”

While that specialization, dedication and longevity gave Sapnar something most other students could only hope to achieve, his joy and involvement with music is not limited to a single instrument.

“I’ve been playing piano for 11 years now,” he said. “I’d stopped taking lessons a few years ago just so I could focus on the trumpet, but I still play the piano all the time, I really love it. I love to mess around with instruments and music, percussion instruments. I have a bass that I like to mess with, and I put all of that into my computer to try and make a one-man band.”

On top of everything else, Sapnar could very well take his turn as the next Skrillex or Marshmello. He owns his own recording software, and isn’t shy about experimenting in the comfort of his room. Last holiday season, Sapnar made a video on his personal Instagram account with a jazzy re-imagining of “Frosty the Snowman.”

“I could spend hours and hours and hours on end in there. Late nights. My favorite time to make music is after 10 o’clock, which is my parents’ least favorite time for me to make music,” he said.

Sapnar’s parents’ ears will be getting a much-needed break during November. He will have participated in an all-state band competition in Atlantic City for three days at the end of the first full week of the month. Then, on Nov.16, he expects to participate in a concert at the performing arts center in Newark. After that, the main event with the national jazz band in Orlando.

“That’s going to happen from Nov. 24–27,” he said. “I’m going to see my fellow auditioners. I did a summer camp that’s affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center, with Wynton Marsalis, called ‘Summer Jazz Academy’ and it’s an audition-based camp. They take just enough to make two jazz bands. It’s two weeks of intensive jazz playing and lessons. It was an incredible experience. The national jazz band is affiliated with Jazz at Lincoln Center, so I’ll know a lot of the kids from there.”

Haddonfield High School senior Banks Sapnar performs on the trumpet with the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. (Photo credit: Maureen Sapnar)

Fall is also the traditional time for seniors to put in the work toward deciding where they will continue their academic and personal growth, and Sapnar has a well-defined idea about the direction he might take in his immediate future.

“I’m applying to Temple University, William Paterson University, University of the Arts,” he said. “My reach schools are the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard. I’m currently in the process of recording audition videos and writing essays, so it’s a busy time.”

Sapnar cited Temple or William Paterson as his top choices, adding he plans to work toward a degree in music education.

Aside from his studies, his work with the trumpet and other musical ventures, Sapnar said he wanted to use his final year of high school trying out for things he always wanted to do. On a whim, he decided to try out for the fall play, and also joined up with the madrigal singers.

Sapnar secured his junior prom date with a burrito-themed “prom-posal.” For his final formal dance, he’s working up something different, but was coy on the details, saying, “I’m trying to get through the holidays right now, but I think I can do something musical for the senior prom. Make it bigger and more fun.”

With so much on his plate and so much emphasis on making the right choices for the future, Sapnar still recognized the need to take stock and simply enjoy the experiences on the cusp of a major transition.

“I do need to recharge my batteries every once in a while, but it is really cool to be here in Haddonfield, at the high school, putting the work in. It’s definitely a balance,” he said.