Bridging Cultures with Music: International Student at Roosevelt University Pursues Passion for Bass Trombone in Chicago

photo of Prapat Prateepphleepon playing trombone

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–December 11, 2015.  Love for music runs in the Prateepphleepon family. Prapat, who will graduate today with a Master of Music in bass trombone, remembers listening to his mother play the electophone, an electronic organ, during his childhood in Bangkok, Thailand. He followed in her footsteps and took lessons starting at age 4, but when his middle school band held auditions for trombonists, he jumped at the chance to learn a new instrument—one he said he understands like nothing else.

Since then, Prateepphleepon has played in the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan in July of this year, performed in November with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), and won a live audition for the Chicago Civic Orchestra in September. He credits his success to the joy music brings him and the inspiration he finds in music’s universal language.

“Music is a language everyone can understand. In the Pacific Music Festival, people from different countries came together and were in sync in music. It unifies people,” Prateepphleepon said.

Prateepphleepon began his graduate studies at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt in 2013 after studying trombone at Kasetsart University in Thailand and studying on full scholarship at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore. In Singapore his professor Shannon Pittaway, a Northwestern University graduate, urged Prateepphleepon to continue his studies in Chicago. Pittaway called Chicago a “brass city;” a place where brass breathing and sound techniques mirror the methods Prateepphleepon learned in Singapore. At Roosevelt, Prateepphleepon’s mentors Jay Friedman, principal trombonist of the CSO and artist faculty, and Reed Capshaw, principal trombonist of the Elgin Symphony, Lake Forest Symphony and South Bend Symphony, helped him to grow.

“Sometimes it was hard, but my professors pushed me to be the best. They didn’t teach me the destination, they taught me how to get to the destination,” Prateepphleepon said.

When he first arrived in the U.S., Prateepphleepon found it challenging at first to adjust to speaking English. He had experience with the language in Singapore, but found the Chicago accent to be unique. With the help of one of his CCPA classmates, he picked it up after a few months. “The professors here are good because they know how to communicate with international students.”

After graduation, Prateepphleepon will perform with the Chicago Civic Orchestra for two years, during which he will audition across the country. He feels confident about auditions after the preparation he received at Roosevelt. His professors often held mock auditions for him to practice.

“Roosevelt is very near the symphony hall, so it’s very easy for me to learn the way professional musicians perform on stage,” Prateepphleepon said.

Prateepphleepon lives in Edgewater with his brother, Anantapon, who plays viola and is pursuing an MBA at Roosevelt. Prateepphleepon aspires to teach and said he wants to inspire the next generation of musicians in Thailand.

Prateepphleepon feels especially grateful for the support of his mother. He remembers how she waited for him for three hours every day after school while he practiced at marching band rehearsal, and how she encouraged him to pursue his dreams. She will be in the Auditorium Theatre today during Commencement to celebrate yet another of Prateepphleepon’s successes.

“I am very happy to be a part of Roosevelt. I learned a lot here, and my professors have inspired me to be the best,” Prateepphleepon said.