The student news site of Lambert High School

The Lambert Post

The student news site of Lambert High School

The Lambert Post

The student news site of Lambert High School

The Lambert Post

Humans of Lambert: Zachary Davis

A picture of Zachary. Image courtesy of Zachary Davis.

Every morning at school, Zachary Davis, a Senior at Lambert High School, makes his way to the band room to practice international folk songs with his band. Prior to the band’s formation, Zachary played in a Slavic music duo with Belarusian transfer student Gleb Bogomazov. Zachary would perform his accordion while Gleb would sing.


“Just two weeks ago, he was at my house and we were playing some songs from his favorite band,” Zachary said. “He’s helped me expand my music taste a lot by showing me more mainstream music from Russia, which I haven’t really seen a lot of.”

A picture of Zach and Gleb practicing at Zachary’s house. Image courtesy of Zachary Davis.


Zachary is a half-American, half-Estonian member of the Lambert Wind Ensemble with musical fluency in the accordion, trumpet, saxophone, french horn, euphonium, Estonian bagpipe and recorder. But before 6th grade, Zachary thought music was stupid, having been forced to play the recorder in elementary school. Zachary’s love for music only began while playing trumpet in his middle school band class and taking saxophone lessons on the side.


“After some time in my middle school band class, I found my old recorder and started playing on it,” Zachary said. “I realized that it wasn’t such a stupid instrument; the recorder is actually one of my main instruments outside of the band now.”


Zachary’s love for music was very gradual. There are important milestones to his journey, but ultimately his admiration for music has only grown overtime.


“There was no real snap moment where I started liking music,” Zachary said. “It was a very slow progression over a few years.”


Music has run through Zachary’s family for centuries. His grandma played piano, his uncle played drums, his dad played trumpet (the same trumpet that Zachary had used in his middle school band class) and his mom played accordion.


“My mom’s accordion was in our house and I was just, you know, playing a little bit on it,” Zachary said. “I loved the sound; I really wished I could play with it fluently.”


After Zachary’s sophomore year at Lambert, he went to school in Estonia for a gap year. There he practiced playing accordion, developed his Estonian linguistics and further connected himself to Estonian folk music.


“When I went there for my gap year, I was nervous,” Zachary said. “It felt like a new country, like a new culture; it was a little bit scary at first.“


Zachary was enrolled in a folk music camp run by the Estonian branch of Ethno. Ethno is a global organization that serves to revive and/or sustain folk, world and traditional music by engaging young people in annual music camps that consist of workshops, jam sessions, rehearsals, performances and tours.


“My mom basically just called the main organizer and said, ‘Hey, can my son come in?’ and they eventually let me in,” Zachary said. “I saw how people were playing all those folk music instruments in camp, and I wanted to play them myself; I started loving accordions, bagpipes and music in general.”


Zachary performed so skillfully at the folk music camp that the organizers called him back two months later to be a part of a music tour around Estonia.

A picture of Zachary (3rd from right) and other Ethno musicians performing on tour. Image courtesy of Zachary Davis.


”I was playing recorder at the time, so the touring band was me on recorder, two on violin, one on the Estonian accordion and then a guitar player,” Zachary said. “We went to a lot of elementary schools, showed students there the different folk instruments and played some songs for them; it was very eye opening and amazing experience.”


After his gap year, Zachary began to see Estonia as his second home. He had made great friends, and developed a deep love for Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia.


“I loved walking around and seeing familiar faces; being able to strike up conversations with anybody and maybe continue talking over lunch or coffee,” Zachary said. “I love feeling like the whole city is my home…as if I’m just walking around my living room when I go out on the street.”


From June 1 to August 1, 2023, Zachary returned to Estonia once more to participate in Ethno’s folk music camp. The camp he went to for his gap year was designed for 12-16-year-olds, while this other camp was designed for 16-30-year-olds.

A frame of Zachary being interviewed at Ethno’s folk music camp.

“We played songs from around the world for thousands of people at the largest folk festival in Europe,” Zachary said. “It was an amazing experience.” (Similar footage is available here)


In this great cultural revitalization, folk music is used to unite politically-segmented people and diverse dialects all across Estonia. By the end of the camp, the participating musicians were drawn very close together.


“We made a WhatsApp group where people post themselves teaching songs we learned at that camp to their own music groups in different countries,” Zachary said. “It’s just very cool to see all that interconnectedness not only at the camp, but also when people bring that vibe around the world.”


This unity is essential, it brings the power to connect and embrace shared experiences. Many clubs and student organizations at Lambert focus on uniting diasporic cultures and ethnic backgrounds present among pupils and peers. Zachary finds it quintessential to protect and cherish the various cultures in the melting pot of Lambert.


“I do know some people at Lambert with a Slavic background,” Zachary said. “But sadly, most of them are not as connected to their culture. Before taking my gap year, I was like that too.”


Zachary has come a long way in his folk music journey, growing increasingly connected to his Estonian heritage. The strides he has made have brought great joy to his mother, who played an integral role in his journey.


“My mom loves folk music,” Zachary said. “She told me that she’s just so happy that everyday she can hear me practicing some folk songs. Sometimes I start playing a song that takes her back to a distant memory, back to when she was a child or a young adult, and she remembers her time in Estonia.”


Through all of his musical history, Zachary holds his instrumental skill and Estonian heritage very close to him. Wherever he decides to go, or whatever he decides to pursue, he will always have his love for music.


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