Placer High senior’s music talent reflected in awards, honor band

By: Bridget Jones, Special to the Journal
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Bradley Moller is serious about music. The17-year-old Placer High School senior and his family immigrated to Auburn from their native South Africa half way through his eighth-grade school year. “My parents are pharmacists, and they got offered jobs from Rite Aid to come here,” Moller said. “It was a big culture shock. Other than that, it’s actually been a great move so far. Everyone helps us with what we need. It’s just a great place to live.” When Moller started attending Placer High, he joined the Golden Hillmen band as a tuba player. He has been playing the tuba since he was 9 years old, and said he chose this particular instrument because he was impressed by the look of it. “I just picked the biggest instrument there was: the tuba,” he said, laughing. “In South Africa, pretty much everyone played an instrument. When I came over here I just continued it. It was never a thought in my mind to stop playing it.” Moller said joining the band made his transition to high school very easy. “It’s a very welcoming band,” he said. “It’s like a big family. As a freshman, they let you in and it’s like having another family that’s always there. For some people, high school is a big thing, but when you go into band, you already have a group of friends that accept you.” At Placer High, Moller participates in jazz band, concert band and marching band, where he plays a sousaphone, or wearable tuba. Because he is a football player, he also participates in the pep band only during the basketball season. Dave Lawrenson, Placer High band director, said Moller was one of the first students he really noticed in class because the teen was talented on several different levels, but was still happy to take suggestions on how to improve his music. “Brad’s a consummate musician,” Lawrenson said. “He’s put the package together. He can read music, he can be expressionate, and he can help others. His ability simply when it came to reading (music) told me he could really go far. He takes everything you can throw at him like a sponge.” Moller strives to take his musical education to new levels by participating in various California honor bands and competitions. Last year he played in the Sierra College Honor Band and the California Association for Music Education — known as CMEA — Capitol Section high school honor band at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. These experiences were very humbling and educational, Moller said. “You just go for about three or four days, and you get to play with musicians who are better than yourself,” he said. In 2008 Moller also took part in a CMEA solo competition and moved on to the all-state competition at Sacramento State University, taking home a gold prize for his tuba playing. Along with participating in the Capitol Section again this year and playing in the 2009 Nor-Cal Honor Band in Humboldt earlier this month, Moller auditioned for and gained a spot in the 2009 high school All-State Honor Band, which meets Feb. 19-22 in Fresno. The annual All-State Honor Band convention is hosted by the California Band Directors Association and exhibits honor bands made up of high school and junior high school students from all over the state. Lawrenson said it’s important that Moller has a variety of educational musical experiences. “By students doing that … they get a better view of the music world,” he said. “I’m extremely proud of Brad. He’s pushed himself not only to excel, but to show on a bigger stage how well he’s excelled.” When he’s not playing music, Moller loves to participate in sports at Placer High. “I just got done with football season,” he said. “I’m doing track now. I played Rugby all my life in South Africa, and I’m looking to start it up again at Sierra College next year.” Jenna Davis, Moller’s girlfriend and recent Placer High graduate, first met Moller through music. Moller was in eighth grade with the E.V. Cain band in 2005 when the group had the chance to play with the Placer High Band, of which Davis was a member. The two started dating when Moller was a freshman in high school. She said an important thing to know about Moller is how much he inspires others. “He’s really caring about other people,” Davis said. “If someone in the band or sports is having a hard time (understanding something), he’ll make sure that they get it before they move on. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He’s just a positive person in all aspects of his life.” After graduating, Moller will attend Sierra College where he wants to participate in performance band. He is then considering attending Stanford University or joining the United States Marine Corp to participate in the United States Marine Band. He would eventually like to have a double major in engineering and performance. Davis said she has no doubt that Moller will achieve his dream of becoming a professional musician because he will never give up. “The kind of person he is, he’ll keep going and working harder and harder until what he wants comes true,” she said. If you would like to recommend a teen to be profiled in this series contact Bridget Jones at