Spotlight on Ross Mikulskis (I)


Source: Daniel Lee-Tran

Here you can see Ross Mikulskis (I) honkin’ that horn!

If you have ever heard the melody of a trumpet wafting through the Boston Latin School music wing in the early hours of the morning, you were probably hearing Ross Mikulskis (I) practicing. In his time at BLS, he’s shown dedication to his instrument by joining the BLS Big Band in eighth grade, and playing in the Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. He also created and played in the BLS Brass Quintet as a sophomore (although it only lasted one year).

BLS Big Band has been a community for Mikulskis to improve his art, make long-lasting memories and instill his passion into others. He strives to be the finest lead trumpet player he can be, and in turn to be a role model for younger students and the entire band.

One of the best tools of encouragement and communication within jazz is the simple phrase, “Yeah man.” If you step into a Big Band rehearsal or bus ride, no doubt you’ll hear that phrase, along with jokes about oats. This inside joke stemmed from Mikulskis doing an impromptu freestyle, a common practice on Big Band bus rides, riffing on the last name of famous saxophonist Dick Oatts.

Although not only attributed to him, another major accomplishment for Big Band was its win at the Charles Mingus festival, at which Mikulskis played lead trumpet. Mingus has been a major influence on him, and he even states that Mingus is “one of the artists [he’s] most passionate about […] because [he’s] had so many memories playing songs with the Big Band, and there’s been so much emotion in those performances.” His favorite Mingus songs include “Sweet Sucker Dance” and “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”

One of Mikulskis’s greatest achievements was getting into the Massachusetts Music Educators Association’s All State-Festival Jazz ensemble in both 2020 and 2021. Participating in this festival allowed him to meet amazing musicians and to make connections, one of which led him to become a member of the Cameron Shave Jazz Orchestra. The ensemble has a myriad of virtual performances, which can be viewed here.

Mikulskis is driven to improve his craft by his goal to create and play in his own jazz band as an adult. This is largely because he feels that “music is a great way to […] share about [himself.]” Especially in these times of isolation, we lose opportunities to express ourselves through face-to-face interaction, but music helps Miskulkis to “share how [he] feels and what [he] thinks is important.” Often, the emotion that can be put into a trumpet solo or ensemble performance is something that can’t be expressed through words, and this is something Mikulskis reiterates.

He’s expressed some of his emotion through one of his passion projects: his original song “Fragile,” which he released on SoundCloud. The song features beats, an original rap and trumpet melodies, all written, recorded and produced by Mikulskis himself. Additionally, he arranged and composed a song entitled “For You” featuring Julieta Manfredi, which can be viewed here.

Music has been an outlet for Mikulskis, and it has also created opportunities, friendships and communities where he’s been able to grow and express himself. To anyone who wants to get more involved in music, you should! It can have a great impact on your life, and just like Mikulskis, you can have, “tons of fun when [you’re] doing it!”