Spondike selected to another prestigious ensemble


Hannah Stelitano

Shaler Area High School senior Zachary Spondike is one of a few students from 11 different states to be accepted into the NAfME All Eastern Honors Jazz Ensemble. This elite ensemble is extremely difficult to receive a spot in, but this is Spondike’s second time receiving an honor like this. In 2020, Zach was one of a few students to be selected to participate in the National Association for Music Education 2020 All-National Jazz Band.

Zach has been interested in music his whole life, but the realization of his true passion emerged in middle school.

“I started getting more invested in music and jazz in middle school and started studying more from there. As my high school career is coming to an end, I’m very proud to say that I’ll be majoring in Music Education, but currently undecided on where I’ll be studying,” Spondike said.

Zach previously auditioned for the 2020 All-States Ensemble on a tenor sax, which made him eligible to audition for the All Eastern Honors Ensemble. The tenor saxophone is one of the primary solo instruments in jazz music, making it extremely difficult to earn a spot in an ensemble playing one.

“Zach went through this process, climbing the ranks, and was notified recently that he was accepted into the All-East Jazz Ensemble.  This is a very prestigious honor,” Mr. George Tepshich, SAHS band teacher, said.

Being that the jazz music world is extremely competitive, Spondike being one of 18 students picked to be a part of the NAfME ensemble is extremely impressive. He was one of 18 students to be accepted from 11 different states (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont).

“I started to think about how far I’ve come to get to this point and how grateful I am for all of the support I’ve received along the way,” Zach mentioned.

Zach is very talented in playing the tenor saxophone, but , he is also skilled in alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Tenor sax, his favorite, is the primary instrument he plays.

Now that Zach is a part of the NAfME All Eastern Honors Jazz Ensemble, he will be performing in a concert with students who live as far away as Europe and has also had the opportunity to work with famous musicians like Terrell Stafford and Dick Oatts.