Nick Bortolon

Bortolon’s Beats


Junior Nick Bortolon plays the marimba during a field show for matching bad. Bortolon has been playing since his sophomore year and the success has been plentiful (Courtesy of Nick Bortolon)

Maddie Dailey, Op-Ed Editor

    There’s a lot more that goes into playing the xylophone than you think.  Or rather, in this case, the marimba.

    Junior Nick Bortolon has been playing an instrument since his days in elementary school.  From the trumpet to piano to percussion, Bortolon has been involved in some type of music for most of his life.

    “As part of the front ensemble, or the pit, I play on the mallet percussion instruments, often while holding two mallets, or sticks, in each hand,” Bortolon said.  “Because the front ensemble doesn’t march, we often have challenging parts that can take weeks to learn.”

    Bortolon participates in marching bands and other drum corps including the Tri City Percussion group and the Blue Devils B Drum & Bugle Corps (BDB).  The music for these groups is much more lively, energetic, and difficult than usual bands, according to Bortolon.

    However, this path into percussion was not his choice.  Bortolon played trumpet when he set foot at Monte Vista, but when band director and teacher, Ed Cloyd, heard him playing the piano, he insisted he try playing the vibraphone in winter percussion.  

    “I loved it and ended up continuing in pit ever since,” Bortolon said.

    With his years of practice, success has come quickly and often.  Bortolon has been the Pit Captain since his sophomore year for the marching band, is a percussion captain for the Tri City Winter Percussion Group, and will be among those in the prestigious marimba line for BDB this year.

    “It’s definitely going to be difficult, both because of the rigor of the activity and the commitment, but I think it is definitely worth it.”

    And although it may not seem like it, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears are involved in becoming a successful mallet player.  Literally.

    According to Bortolon, in order to grip two mallets in each hand you have to “break skin” and form callouses, blood often present in the process.

    Yet, the work and pain are all worthwhile for Bortolon, after getting to perform.

    “The best part of [playing] is the amazing feeling while performing,” he said.  “I can’t exactly explain it except for saying it’s electrifying; being in front of an audience like that and playing the music of a field show is absolutely surreal.”

    Former Monte Vista Student, band member, and friend of Bortolon, Ryan Luis, described him as a “perfectionist” and a “teacher” not only praising his work ethic but additionally his ability to push others toward greatness.

    “I can see Nick going very far with his playing,” Luis said.  “He might even become the next famous composer.  You never know with Nick what he will do next.”

    Music has had an extreme impact on Bortolon and his life, showing him “discipline” and commitment.

    “Marching band has given me something to be passionate about and has given me something to be proud of.” Bortolon said. “I cannot imagine what my life would be like right now if I never started playing mallet instruments.”