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Weston Trumpeter Blows 'Em Away In Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestra

Jane Paknia
Jane Paknia Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTON, Conn. — Jane Paknia’s affection for the trumpet developed over time. Now a member of the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras, the Weston High School junior has become an accomplished and dedicated trumpeter.

  • Who: Jane Paknia, Weston High School junior
  • What: Trumpeter for Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras
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Like many young musicians, however, Paknia fought through some early growing pains when she started in the fifth grade. “It definitely took some getting used to,’’ she said. “I didn’t like it at first. I had played piano, and I loved music, but trumpet was something that took time to develop. It wasn’t until around the eighth grade when I really started to enjoy it.”

Paknia remembers the early days when some of the sounds that emanated from her instrument made small animals scurry and family members cover their ears. “For sure, I made some pretty unusual sounds,’’ she said. “My family complained about it a lot.”

Paknia started private lessons with Jim Buchta when she was 13 and began to flourish. Shortly thereafter, she joined GBYO, where she now plays with the Principal Orchestra and Jazz Ensemble.

“That was the turning point,’’ Paknia said. “I was getting more excited every time I started playing. I was rising in my jazz placement, and I was getting more enthusiastic. Jazz is something I enjoy a lot.”

Paknia thrives on an instrument that is primarily a domain for young boys. At GBYO, however, the trumpet section in the 90-member Principal Orchestra includes four girls and one boy.

“In middle school, there were only a few girls that play trumpet,’’ Paknia said. “In high school, I’m the only girl. It was a little uncomfortable in the beginning. I had to get along with people who weren’t like me. Now I have experience in all these different trumpet sections, and I’m not uncomfortable at all. Musicians are pretty laid-back, and the people I’ve met have all been good people.”

Paknia has found a home with GBYO, traveling with the group to Italy last summer for a tour that included visits to Rome, Florence and Tuscany. The orchestra performed in the main square in Florence and also visited the Vatican, The Colosseum and many other historic sites.

“I learned the amount of people that appreciate music doesn’t change,’’ Paknia said. “We played in front of some great audiences. It was so inspiring and amazing to play for the audiences. I also learned that I love Italy.”

Paknia enjoys the social activity and camaraderie in the GBYO, which includes six ensembles and brings together students from Fairfield and New Haven counties. GBYO was founded in 1961.

“Everyone is so excited and passionate about music,’’ Jane said. “A lot of times when these opportunities come up at school, people shrug them off. At GBYO, they’re excited to do more music. They are passionate about music and jump at the opportunity to do more.”

Paknia, and all of the GBYO musicians practice incessantly. She also carries a rigorous academic schedule and fills out her days teaching piano lessons after school followed by rehearsals with GBYO. She practices for five hours each Saturday with GBYO, and frequently spends Sundays volunteering with Circle of Friends, a Norwalk-based nonprofit that supports children, teens, young adults and adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

“I’m up pretty late,’’ Jane said. “My school work gets done. I’m not a person that’s easily stressed. There’s a lot to be done, especially as a high school junior. But it’s something I enjoy.”

Paknia’s skills in the trumpet have come a long way in the past few years. She was selected to the Connecticut Music Educators Association Jazz Band for the Western Region as a sophomore, and this year was named the section leader for the band. She’s unsure where her music will take her, but she is certain it’s going to be a part of her life forever.

“I don’t know if I’ll pursue a career in music,’’ she said. “It’s a big risk. It’s never something I could stop. I enjoy doing it, and I could take a minor in music performance. My grandmother is a piano teacher, and that’s something else I could see myself doing part-time down the road. I can’t say for sure what I’ll be doing just yet.”

Paknia will play in the final round of the GBYO on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 2 p.m. at Pequot Library. The concert is free. 

For more information and upcoming concerts by the Greater Bridgeport Youth Orchestras, click here to visit its website.

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