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If you ask trombone player Trystan Fritts which his favorite song is to play, you won’t get a straight answer. Some days it may be a symphony, and other days it may be a tune from jazz legend John Coltrane, but one thing is for certain—Fritts has got the chops to play it all.

image of Trystan Fritts playing trombone
Trystan Fritts

An incoming freshman, Fritts is part of the Class of 2022.

Last winter in New York, Fritts showed off his musical chops as part of the Grammy Camp Jazz Session, a program that brings together the best high school jazz musicians from around the country for a week of concerts at official Grammy Week events.

“On a whim, I decided it was my last chance to audition for this band. I sent in an audition, and sure enough I made it. I never expected to make that kind of band. It was a wonderful experience,” Fritts said.

One of the most valuable experiences for Fritts was meeting Wynton Marsalis, the head of Juilliard’s brass department, who reaffirmed Fritts’s college plans by telling him, “UT is fantastic.”

Fritts, who also plays bass guitar and piano, is particularly looking forward to learning from Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Donald Brown, who is a professor in the School of Music.

“Knoxville is a gem. The jazz faculty here is really incredible,” said the young musician, who was homeschooled for six years.

He honed his musical talent with the Knoxville Jazz Youth Orchestra, the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Knoxville Christian Youth Band. Fritts participated in the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association throughout middle and high school, made All-State three years in high school, and received a full scholarship to the Governor’s School for the Arts at Middle Tennessee State University.

While he’s a bit apprehensive about managing his time during freshman year as a commuter—“I’m a procrastinator at heart”—Fritts knows getting a degree is important.

“I’d love to perform, do studio music, maybe Broadway shows. I want that degree to get me to the next step of my life.”


Cassandra Sproles (865-974-8063,