AUSTIN, Texas—Lecolion Washington says that he has two mottoes that he lives by. The first: “There are no missed opportunities; someone else will get the ones that you miss.”
Born in Garland, Texas, Washington is one of the first in his family to graduate from college. He will be one of nearly 6,000 UT Austin students graduating this spring. The University’s evening Commencement ceremonies are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday (May 22) on the South Terrace of the Main Building.
Looking at his illustrious and extremely busy career as an undergraduate in the School of Music, it’s easy to see that Washington missed very few opportunities.
“I didn’t really choose music, music chose me,” stated Washington, who had pre-registered at UT as a chemical engineering major. In junior high he wanted to play percussion, but the orchestra teacher encouraged him to play the bassoon. “I was terrible, but since I am not a quitter I decided I would practice until I got better and then I would stop playing.”
Washington not only became better on the bassoon; he was hooked and played in the orchestra. He also played percussion in the marching band and was drum major his senior year.
His bassoon teacher for four years at UT, Kristen Jensen, said, “It’s been a pleasure watching Lecolion grow as a person and a musician. He has gone from an unfocused, lackadaisical guy to a mature, disciplined musician. Lecolion often comes into his lessons beaming with a new revelation, ‘I’ve been listening to Beethoven Five (Fifth Symphony) a lot lately. Man! That guy was a genius!’ And he will go on to tell me about the compositional intricacies of the piece. He has developed a professional tone, and sense of style and always plays music from the heart.”
Washington has high praise for Jensen. “She’s a tough teacher but a great one. She always says, ‘You have to challenge yourself.’ She taught me how to teach myself. She also taught me to be professional in every situation because it might be the last opportunity you get.”
Another teacher Washington admired was Charles Roeckle, who is now acting dean of the College of Fine Arts. “He was a very demanding teacher but his was the best class (history of the symphony from 1720 to the present), besides Professor Jensen, that I had at UT.” Washington said that Dr. Ronald Crutcher, director of the School of Music, was very helpful to him.
Crutcher said that Washington “exemplifies the best and brightest as far as music students are concerned. The future of music is in good hands.” He added, “Supporting and nurturing a student like Lecolion is the reason I became a professor, instead of only performing.”
As a senior in high school Washington received the Texas Achievement Honors Award which provided $5,000 per year for five years at UT. He also received the Presser Foundation Scholarship and the Marguerite Fairchild Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Music. This spring he was selected as one of the Dean’s Dozen, an award for outstanding graduating seniors from across the campus, given by the Dean of Students’ Office.
Washington plans on entering graduate school next fall in New York, either at the Manhattan School of Music or Mannes School of Music. He will visit both schools after graduation before deciding. Last year he took his first trip to New York when the UT Wind Ensemble performed at Carnegie Hall. “That was an awesome experience knowing that Pavarotti and Wynton Marsalis had performed on that stage.”
And Washington’s second motto? “When people are around me I want them to feel better about themselves.” Jensen said, “Through his gregarious, outgoing personality, Lecolion has been a natural student leader and served as an officer in Phi Mu Alpha. He also has been a mentor to many of the younger bassoon students.”
The future looks bright for this young musician who aspires to teach at a college level, while continuing to perform. It’s a safe bet that he will achieve both of those goals in the near future.