Zachary Frankowiak is making waves with his musical talent, putting Plant City on the map and showing there is a hidden well of talent right here at the edge of Tampa Bay.
A music prodigy has been putting Plant City on the map thanks to his colossal talent.
Zachary James Frankowiak is a junior at Plant City High School and fell in love with music when he delved into the concept of music theory in middle school. He learned to write and compose tracks and soon his plans of growing up and working in the tech field began to shift.
“Music isn’t supposed to be something that passes the time by, it’s supposed to encapsulate their entire focus,” Frankowiak said. “This type of music, it has a deeper meaning than many of the pop songs you listen to. What we can covey, it can be very special. I don’t think a lot of people understand how hard it is to play the type of music we do.”
Frankowiak can play a variety of instruments, but is irreproachable with the flute. He is the only Plant City student to currently have been accepted to the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and plays for the prestigious symphony orchestra. Recently he also was invited to participate in the USF Festival of Winds and was honored with the position of first chair.
Though he has been accepted to local legendary arts schools he said he was passionate to join the renaissance PCHS was experiencing in its band program. He’s involved in nearly every aspect of the group — including the jazz band — and is spearheading a movement to break off into smaller bands and perform frequently around town to increase awareness of the school’s talent.
His success and deep-rooted passion is all thanks to his mentors, which have come in a variety of forms ranging from a middle school teacher to his band director. They recognized his talent and fanned the flame, helping Frankowiak transform from an average pupil to an exemplary talent. His competitive nature only helped ease the transition.
“I went to a camp at USF and it got very competitive,” Frankowiak said. “When I saw how good everyone was there I knew I had to practice harder so I could be at their level. Over that summer I practiced every day. When I went back to school it was like I was an entirely different musician.”
That dedication only deepened as the years passed. Frankowiak practices the fundamentals every day to ensure he continues to master all aspects of his instruments and that his dexterity never falls. Yet when the time came to audition for the Tampa Met he said he was convinced he wasn’t going to make it.
“I had never played in an orchestra before, it was the real stuff,” Frankowiak said. “I remember the audition. It was so intimidating. I was watching these other musicians in awe. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be accepted… I played the piccolo for them because no one else seemed interested in the chair. That’s one thing I always try to be, versatile.”
He’s only a junior and has already played alongside the Florida Orchestra at the University of South Florida via his involvement in groups like the TMYO. The experiences he’s been a part of have changed his life and he’s learned to strive for perfection and always seek growth.
As graduation looms he said he and his teacher have been training for his auditions to some of the most esteemed music schools in the nation. His ultimate dream would be to build a career as a solo artist and in an orchestra.
He’s the first in his family to have an artistic gift and he’s pursuing it with everything he has.
“My teacher, he always tells me, ‘If you shoot for the moon you’ll always miss, but if you shoot for the stars you’ll land on the moon,’” Frankowiak said.
He’s learned the music industry, as in so many things, is political. So much of the experience revolves around who you know and what your credentials are. Luckily he’s making the necessary connections to help secure a bright future, but he said his hope is he’ll be able to help open those doors for his fellow students.
Though in recent years it’s excelled across the board, the school still doesn’t resonate in people’s minds as being prolific with talented artists and musicians. The band is currently evolving into what Frankowiak believes will be a powerhouse program. But there is still much work to do. A big hurdle is getting the community to come out and support the students.
“Everyone expects us to be ‘Plant City,’ they don’t expect us to be able to excel at our competitions,” Frankowiak said. “The past two years we’ve received an excellent and we just got an overall superior. We are improving and really showing that Plant City has talent. One of the things in the back of my mind is if I keep doing what I’m doing it may inspire more people. The more people I can get on board at this level the better it will be for our entire community.”