Denin Koch is a man with many talents and many instruments. This Richland High School junior got his start in music on an instrument in elementary school and followed his passion by picking up a few more instruments along the way.

Koch said he got his start in music in fourth grade playing the marimbas, an instrument similar to the xylophone. He said his elementary school offered a program for elementary students to learn the unique instrument.

Koch said he followed the marimbas with an interest in the steel drums, an instrument he continues to play to this day with the Tri-Cities Steel Band Association. He said it was also in middle school that he discovered a love for the guitar and tuba and has played in jazz bands and concert bands every year since.

With the guitar, Koch said it was an interesting start.

“I actually started playing guitar because of guitar hero,” he said.

Koch said he learned how to play in the sixth grade and was self-taught for his first couple of years.

Recently, Koch said he has started to take private lessons via Skype.

“It works pretty well for people who already know how to play the instrument,” he said. “It doesn’t really work for people who are just learning the instrument and need to be shown which keys to play.”

Koch said he telecommutes every week to Eugene, Oregon for the lessons.

For his freshman year, Koch said he also won the award of the outstanding jazz musician for Richland High School playing the guitar.

On the tuba, Koch has an equally impressive resume.

Last year, Koch said he was selected to the all-state concert band on tuba. He said he has also won the title of ‘outstanding’ in numerous solo competitions.

Koch said the draw in playing instruments and being part of school music programs has been the friendships he has created.

“The friendships have been profound,” he said. “Music has also just always felt natural. As I have learned more about it, it has also become a kind of escape.”

Koch said playing instruments has allowed him to express himself in a way that other people can’t.

“When I play, it is pure raw emotion,” he said. “When I standing up to play a guitar solo in jazz band, everything goes away.”

Koch said one day, he would like to be a touring musician.

“I don’t know if the touring lifestyle is for me yet, but it is essentially my dream job,” he said.

Koch said he hopes to attend Whitworth University and major in music.