Building a career note by note

By ERIC A. HOWALD Of the Keizertimes Jesus Gomez doesn’t hear a song like the the rest of us. If we’re lucky, we might latch onto a lyric, a bit of perfect harmony, a melody that gets stuck in our brains for hours, or worse, days. Gomez, a McNary High School senior and music composer, hears all of those. But, more importantly, he hears the places where he can break a song down, parcel it out and insert his own vision. “I listen for message, but it’s the message I want to portray. It’s also the workability of the song I’m trying to find,” Gomez said. He offers up Justin Timberlake’s SexyBack as a song that doesn’t quite work for reinterpretation, “There’s no real melody or harmony, it’s just kind of there, but there are some dance clubs songs where you can explode the musical content.” Gomez certainly isn’t alone in his ability to plumb new depths of a song, but just a few minutes inside the McNary choir room will show any visitor what sets him apart. He regularly directs the choir through its warm-ups and sometimes during class itself closing his eyes tightly and listening intensely for imperfections and areas of improvement. He’s unafraid to stop them mid-note and have them start over if he’s not hearing the choir sing to their potential. More astonishing is that...

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