Playing his truth

Paniouchkine taught himself how to play five instruments

With five instruments under his belt, sophomore Juninho Paniouchkine doesn’t plan on stopping there. Despite the challenges being both a musician and student, Paciouchkine has been able to keep his love for music alive.

After almost six years playing, Paniouchkine plays the oboe, flute, clarinet, marimba, piano and saxophone.

“The easiest to learn was the flute, by far, because it was the first one that I did learn,” Juninho said. “It was like an entry world into music.”

Some instruments, like the oboe, were more difficult for Paniouchkine to learn, because it requires different techniques.

“The oboe ambuture is really difficult because it’s double reed,” Paniouchkine said. “You have to formulate your mouth so purse and so tight [to] create a sound that’s perfect in pitch and perfect in tone.”

Paniouchkine finds the flute’s sound and tone as its most attractive features.

“Honestly, the flute is one of my favorite instruments to play because of how it sounds,” Paniouchkine said, “[I like] the expression that you can make with the sound.”

Aside from the flute, Paniouchkine enjoys playing the marimba, a keyboard-like instrument composed of hollowed out wooden pipes.

“It’s a lot of technique and I like the technique,” Paniouchkine said. “It gives you a feeling of satisfaction whenever you complete something that difficult, and marimba is one of the more difficult instruments that I play.”

Paniouchkine found his passion for music during the summer of his fifth grade year. After finding success in the flute, he moved onto other instruments, playing oboe for his middle school band.

“For a while, I wasn’t playing flute, and I was focusing a lot more on clarinet, because I was in 8th grade band,” Paniouchkine said, “I wanted to focus on that again in high school band, but I realized that high school band would take a lot more responsibility than what I wanted to do with music.”

Not the only musician in his family, his uncle used to play the mellophone, or french horn, in marching band. While his uncle helped to inspire his love of music, Paniouchkine is not a fan of brass instruments, due to the ambuture that you have to form to produce a sound.

“Brass was his thing, not mine. I don’t think I would have that much of a good time playing brass because I have predisposition lips,” Paniouchkine said, “The vibrating of it hurts for me, because I have tried to play it, and it just hurts my lips a lot, especially now that I have braces too.”

Paniouchkine, who gained interest in the violin after learning to string it in kindergarten, has been holding onto a violin in hopes of eventually mastering it.

“I kind of got disinterested with it, but now I really want to get back into it,” Paniouchkine said, “If I have the time, I would really put time and effort into learning.”

Panciouchkine owns all of the instruments he uses, except for the marimba, so he can practice them and stay in touch.  Now refocusing on the flute, Panciouchkine is reminded of the hard work it takes to become acquainted with an instrument.

“I went back to flute, and I’m rusty from playing three years ago,” Paniouchkine said, “So I look up random pieces of music and I look at it, and I say, ‘Do I have the capability to play this right now?’, and if I don’t, then I go backwards a little bit.”

Paniouchkine spends an hour practicing, or until someone tells him to stop. For a few minutes, he’ll practice piano, look at a piece of music to play, or switch to another instrument if he believes the piece will sound better with another instrument.

“That’s why composition came really easily to me,” Paniouchkine said, “I have the knowledge of different instruments, different keys in different ways that you can express music with those types of instruments.”

This method has allowed him to teach himself new instruments and explore with different pieces of music. Being able to switch back and forth between instruments has helped in other areas of music, such as performances, according to Paniouchkine

“I was in the percussion competition for Southern California Production Alliance, and [I’ve] also done festivals for percussion, and other festivals for clarinet before,” Paniouchkine said, “I don’t perform as often mainly because I’m not part of a group right now, but when I do, it’s for my own pleasure, for other people to just come around and enjoy it.”

For the most part, Paniouchkine is self-taught, and it all comes down to whether or not he wants to play the instrument.

“When I learned clarinet it was like, ‘Here’s a clarinet, here’s a book, learn it,’ and that’s how I got to the level that I am now,”Paniouchkine said, “Same thing with a piano, same thing with flute, where it wasn’t so much like instruction; it was discovery.”

Paniouchkine has considered performing the flute or performing with woodwinds as a possible career path. Although, having won an award for a composition contest, Paniouchkine has also considered a future composing movie or orchestral scores, his favorite types of pieces to play.

However, at this time, Paniouchkine is not interested in pursuing a music career but continues to play instruments as a hobby.

“I don’t do it for some sort of satisfaction outside of my own and being happy” Paniouchkine said, “The beauty of music and how you can always change it, [how] you can always find something good within it, [and] everybody can be connected to music, and the connection that I have, I feel it’s extra special, so I want to improve it more than I ever could, and I want to keep improving it onwards into my life.”