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Fine Arts Student of the Week

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Danny Olson Grade: Senior. Age: 18. Art focus: Brainerd High School Wind Symphony and Jazz Ensemble I. Adviser nomination: Band Director Christopher Fogderud stated: “Danny is an outstanding percussionist and guitarist. He is the only guitar player in Brainerd who was selected for the Minnesota All-State Jazz Band since I have been at BHS. Danny’s musicianship is inspiring to his peers and teachers alike.” Memorable fine arts achievement: Being selected for the Minnesota All-State Jazz Band in 2018-19. Artist most admired: American musician Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Other fine arts activities: Bards. When did you start playing the guitar? “I started playing guitar when I was 11 years old. How it started was I took formal piano lessons when I was 6 and I did that for three to four years and I didn’t like it. I am a classic rock kind of guy. When I was 11 I went to my buddy’s house and his brother was playing a guitar and was playing Led Zeppelin, and I was like, I want to do that. He had another guitar lying around. I picked it up and started playing it by ear. I have never had a guitar lesson, I am fully self-taught. Same with piano, percussion. My ear is my strong point. It’s how I learned all my music. I listen to the music and figure it all out. “When I got home I was like, ‘Mom, I need a guitar.’ They bought me a cheap electric guitar I think it was 75 bucks. I learned all AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Smashing Pumpkins and Dad said, ‘You sound better,’ and it compiled from there into the collection of guitars I have now. … I have seven guitars. My favorite guitar to play is my Les Paul. I use it for certain style songs in jazz band and for all my gigs in my band and when I am sitting at home practicing. It’s my go-to guitar.” When did you add percussion? “At the end of fifth grade, I played piano so they suggested I do percussion. So I tried that out and liked it and stuck with it. I tried out for Wind Symphony my freshman year and made it my sophomore year. “I am the only guitar player who plays in jazz band at the high school.” Talk about how you made Minnesota All-State Jazz Band: “This was a long audition process where multiple guitar players from the state recorded an audition and sent it in the MMEA (Minnesota Music Educators Association) and they listen and select who is the best. The piece I did I had to do with a recording and I played a bunch of scales and it was long and hard.”
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