Jazz was a staple of American culture during its heyday in the early 1900s with popular musicians like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Charlie Parker.
Though, music has changed since then. Fullerton’s jazz scene isn’t a very popular one to be in.
Regardless of this, Fullerton College houses some of the best professional jazz musicians with music instructors such as Joseph Jewell and Bruce Babad.
FC’s Combo 3 jazz band, under the direction of Mike Scott, is no exception as it helped carve the way for the band’s drummer, Sangwoo Kim – who is now on his way to making a career in music with his acceptance into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
Kim is an international student from South Korea who has been playing jazz drums since the age of 15.
“I wanted to play drums because when I went to church, there was a pretty lady that was playing drums in the church band, so I had to learn,” said Kim.
After receiving permission from his parents, the young musician started learning to play the drums. Kim’s initial interest was in pop and rock music, however once he started to play, he drew inspiration from his instructor – who specialized in jazz music.
“In [South] Korea, it’s a difficult choice to want to be a musician. Many people are talented, but not all of them make it,” Kim explained.
Despite his own worries about taking on a profession in music, his goals were high and he aimed to attend Berklee.
So after high school, the drummer began to learn English so he could fulfill the international transfer requirements to attend a college in the United States.
As he was putting the pieces of his path that led to Berklee together, Kim discovered that Fullerton College has a program specialized to help music students in transfering to Berklee.
At the beginning of last year, the young musician took the leap of faith and made his way by himself from Seoul, South Korea to Fullerton, where he auditioned for Fullerton College and was placed into Scott’s Combo 3 band.
During his time taking the necessary classes to transfer over, Kim would practice on his electric drum kit at home, while also using the music department’s kit as often as he could in order to prepare.
Al his hard work paid off when on March 31 Kim finally received an email from Damien Bracken, Berklee’s Dean of Admissions, which stated that he was accepted into his dream school to pursue a career in music.
Kim has his goals set on using his major in music to eventually become a film scorer.
With his parents in the film industry back in South Korea, the drummer plans to take advantage of the resources he in his native country to directly train under some of the industry’s professionals.
Aside from wanting to score music for films, he also has an interest in making music for any sort of project or for video games.
“I’m really thankful of my family’s support through my journey, it’s not easy, and I love them for it.” Kim said.
Berklee is just another step along Kim’s path where he dreams to return to South Korea to make music.
For more information about the Fullerton College Music Department, visit their website.