A Washington Township mother who believes music is as important as sports wants her son and others to be honored for achievements that don’t take place on a playing field.
Gabriela Major believes township youth who are musicians — like her son, Sebastian, —should be honored for their achievements just as others are praised for their athletic abilities.
Sebastian began playing the trumpet in fifth grade as a student at Whitman Elementary School, where his mentor was Dr. Mary Bushong. The following year, he joined the band at Bunker Hill Middle School and his musical talents began to flourish. Sebastian was invited to join the seventh and eighth grade band and participate in the High Note music festival in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he and his bandmates received the highest ranking overall.
But the 13-year-old didn’t start off as a music enthusiast.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to participate in music, but my parents contacted my principal, who was able to convince me to join the band,” Major recalled. “From there, I tried the trumpet, and it stuck with me ever since. ”
After joining the band at Bunker Hill, he became a part of the Original Hobo Band of Pitman, the youngest member of a group that made its professional debut in 1946. He is also an active member of Beck’s Philadelphia Brigade Band, which features original instruments and music from the Civil War era, and for whom Major plays an 1873 Cornet.
The youth also was included in the Olympic Conference Junior High Band and, recently, All Star South Jersey Band of 2020.
“My old band teacher invited me to join Beck’s, and it was a lot of fun,” Major said. “For Beck’s, we traveled to Gettysburg, and we’re going to Harrisburg soon for big events with reenactments. For the hobo band, we go to places like Ocean City and Atlantic City for parades and concerts at nursing homes.”
When not immersed in music, Major enjoys the same types of activities as any other youth his age. He’s an excellent student and long-distance runner for track and field at Bunker Hill, and he has worked as a mentor to special needs youth. He’s also an active member and volunteer at his parish, Sts. Peter and Paul.
Major wants to have a career not in music, but mechanical robotic engineering, an area he delves in at his school.
“I like building a lot and knowing how things work,” he noted. “LEGOS were a big interest of mine. Building, scripting, coding, animating … That’s fun.
“The thing we were working on in school is called the team-up program,” Major added. “Some of us were selected to work with special needs kids to help them with real-life situations that they’re going to have to deal with as they get older, such as being able to sit down properly and write with a pencil or eat their food properly. Just communication … whether it’s verbal or maybe through an iPad, we’ll be teaching them that kind of stuff.”