Before Noah Carrico, then in first grade, went onstage to perform at the Zitzman Elementary School talent show, he told his grandfather he was going to be the best act out there.
His grandfather, Steven, explained in an email that he laughed and was doubtful, but he encouraged his grandson anyway.
So the young boy went onstage and played The Beatles’ “Let It Be” on the guitar.
At the end, he received a standing ovation.
Now a 15-year-old sophomore at Pacific High School, Carrico does not remember telling his grandfather that, but he did laugh at the story. He does not remember when he first began playing the guitar, either, because it has been an integral part of his upbringing.
This year, his interest in the instrument has reached a new stage: He has been selected as the guitarist for the 2021 Missouri All-State Jazz Ensemble.
Only one student in Missouri can fill this position.
A decade after his elementary school debut, a tough one to top, he was humble about this new honor. “I mean, it’s cool,” he said. “I was really glad that the auditions and stuff were over. I have a lot of stuff going on right now.”
This other stuff includes playing drums in the school’s marching and jazz bands, Pacific High School band teacher Matt Sokeland said. Carrico plays guitar in the other, more experienced jazz ensemble at Pacific High, as well as in his own band, Out By 9. He also is a second baseman for the baseball team and runs cross country.
Among all this, Sokeland described Carrico as a dedicated guitarist. “He is a pretty serious student when it comes to music,” he said.
Carrico said he typically practices an hour each day on his own plus the time he spends during the school’s rehearsals.
“I always grew up playing rock music, like rock and blues, and jazz is just completely different,” he said. With rock, “you’re just ripping; you’re playing whatever you want,” he said. Whereas in jazz, the player has to concentrate more, and “it’s almost like there’s more restraint to it.”
He said he liked the guitar growing up because he enjoyed listening to blues music, which is “a very guitar-based genre.” His interest also runs in the family. His other grandfather, Don Avery, played guitar around Carrico growing up.
Carrico is close with his family, who are Pacific natives, he said, and his cousin, Nick Maxey, is the drummer in Out By 9 with him.
“I will add this because I told my bandmates I would add this in,” he said. “We recorded an album over the summer that is out now. It’s on Spotify.”