Palmetto High School junior Hunter Nash is a musician. He started playing guitar at age five, switched to cello in elementary school, then switched back to guitar when he joined his first jazz band in middle school. Now he is in the Palmetto jazz band and plays guitar for the Community Arts Program’s All Star Jazz Band sponsored by the Coral Gables Congregational Church.
“I’ve only been it during the past year,” he says.
Nash is the All Star Jazz Band’s sole guitar player and to join the band he had to audition and will have to audition again next year. The All Star Jazz Band is going to be in the Essentially Ellington national competition at the Lincoln Center in New York.
“Jazz at Lincoln Center hosts it,” he says. “Our band is one of 15.”
The competition is in early May.
“We are considered a dance band, so we play the old fashioned swing tunes. As the Ellington competition comes and goes, we’ll play more modern compositions. We’ve been focusing more on the Ellington style.”
Nash plays more than jazz. He is a member of Temple Beth Am’s High Holy Days band and the Friday Shabbat band.
“I was a founding member,” he says. “Have been through all of high school.”
The Shabbat band plays in the background to help facilitate the services and make it more entertaining for those attending.
“I’ve been going there as a member since I was born,” Nash says. “My grandparents are founding members. When (cantor) Rachelle Nelson came to me with the opportunity to play in the group, I took it. I’ve become friendly with adults who call me up and tell me to come over and jam. It’s cool.”
Also cool is the fact that the Palmetto jazz band went to the Florida Bandmasters Association state evaluations for the first time in six years. The band took all superiors at the district evaluations which qualified them for the state competition. At states, they had an overall score of excellent.
Outside of music, Nash is a member of all the school honor societies and recently was inducted into the National Honor Society. He has also been elected as vice president of the student council for next year; this year he is the secretary of student involvement.
“I’ll be presiding over the Inter club council and overseeing the club activities,” he says. “In addition to continuing to help the student council host school events.”
This year Nash is the assistant secretary and manager of public relations for Key Club. Next year he will be parliamentarian. Next year Nash also will begin applying to colleges. His number one priority is to attend a school with a good music program or to go to a school located in a city that has a great music scene. His top choice is Vanderbilt.
“Although music plays an integral part of my life, I don’t see it as a career,” he says. “I want to go into medicine. I would consider a music minor with pre-med track as a major.”
Nash’s grandfather, Norman Nash, was a pediatrician who practiced for more than 50 years. He has been a major influence on Nash’s decision to go into medicine, as was his uncle’s traumatic brain injury in a car crash. Going to the hospital each day helped Nash realize he wanted to study medicine.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld