Noah Valdez’s love of music began at an early age. Growing up, he remembers his father playing classic rock music throughout the house as he would get ready for school. This sparked something within Valdez that he later explored at the age of eleven when he began playing the drums in church.

“During service, I would always be mesmerized by the drummer,” he says. “It inspired me to play.” 

He decided to take his talents to the next level and joined the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School band in sixth grade. Although he initially started out playing the French horn, he transitioned to percussion shortly after joining the band. 

“I knew that’s what I wanted to play for the next six years,” adds Valdez.  

Now entering his senior year at Nimitz High School, Valdez has already started off with a bang. Pun intended. In May, he along with 9 of his peers, traveled to Austin for the Texas State Solo-Ensemble Competition (TSSEC). Valdez performed an 8-minute solo piece on marimba for the judges entitled, ‘A Cricket Sang and Set the Sun’ by Blake Tyson. 

When speaking about the experience he says that he was very nervous, but like a true performer, he took a deep breath and let the music take over. Valdez received a Perfect 1 score for his performance, the highest ranking a student can earn, but his accolades didn’t stop there. 

Valdez recalls attending summer drumline camp in July and being called into his director, Nathaniel Ewing’s office for an important conversation. 

“I was worried,” he says while laughing. “I had no idea what he wanted to talk about.”

Upon entering Ewing’s office, he began to read a memo from the University Interscholastic League (UIL) that stated that Valdez was selected as an Outstanding Performer for his performance at TSSEC, an honor that only 2-3% of students competing across the state earn. 

“I was pretty surprised, but proud of myself,” says Valdez. “I also knew my parents would be proud of me.”

Valdez also says that he wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without the guidance and support of his former percussion director, Dan Gelber. Gelber taught for over 30 years at Nimitz High School and made a huge impact on many students, like Valdez. 

“My private lesson instructor, Averrit Rusty, was also instrumental in my success,” he adds. “I appreciate him for helping me perfect my solo.”

While Valdez credits the marimba as being his specialty, he also plays the bass and snare drums in the band and plans to continue his musical journey in college. He currently has his sights set on the University of North Texas, The University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University. 

“I plan to be an environmental engineer,” says Valdez. “But I will never stop performing.”