As the army of musicians sit outside of the Center for the Arts practicing their instruments for their upcoming shows, there lies a long time veteran of the trombone, PCC, and the Army.
Will Buchanan, a music education major, has been playing the trombone for over 20 years out of his 26-year-old life. Buchanan began when he started to receive private lessons at the age of 5 after receiving a trombone for his birthday.
He continued with his private lessons and eventually joined his elementary school band where he found his passion for music. This passion would continue all the way to his Rowland High School Jazz Band where he would decide to attend Pasadena City College after coming to the school for a performance.
“I chose PCC because it’s rated as one of the top community colleges in the country,” Buchanan said. “Their fine arts programs are also highly rated and have really good instructors who care about your development as a musician.”
Buchanan took a gap year off from high school to work on the Carnival Cruise ship “Inspiration” as a trombonist for the jazz band aboard. His time aboard the ship afforded him the opportunity of playing the trombone as a real job and learned how musically diverse people were in their listening habits.
He considered his gig aboard the “Inspiration” successful, where afterward he began his academic journey as a PCC student in 2012.
But things wouldn’t turn out to be so melodic for him, as he was beset by financial troubles after a few semesters.
“I was completely broke after a while here and I decided it was best that I join the Army,” Buchanan said. “I made my way to the nearest recruiter and told him how broke I was in with a $6,500 signing bonus.”
Buchanan became a 12B Combat Engineer assigned to the 58th Combat Engineering Company, 1st Squadron-11th Armored Cavalry Regiment where he would serve for 4 years, including a nine-month tour in Afghanistan.
“My biggest lesson from my time in the Army was learning how to collaborate more effectively with my squadmates in order to execute our mission,” Buchanan said.
After his active duty enlistment, he decided to join a National Guard unit as part of his contract.
“Once every month I’ll drive over to Manhattan Beach to do drill and training exercises with my National Guard unit and it’s worth it,” Buchanan said.
He’s currently assigned to the 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, the first unit of its kind in the National Guard and part of a larger Army-wide change to provide greater engineer support to maneuver brigades.
Buchanan often likes to give advice to veterans transitioning from the military to an academic environment.
“Best piece of advice I can give a vet are applying for Inactive Reserve financial aid even if you don’t qualify for the GI bill, and to respect your peers even if they’re younger than you,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan is transferring to Azusa Pacific University at the end of this semester, where he hopes to become a high school music teacher and hopefully a professor in the future.
“Some pieces I would like to teach my future students would probably be October by Eric Whitacre, and The Divine Comedy which is basically the story of Dante’s Inferno in a musical,” said Buchanan.
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