By INDIA KRUG – The halls are alive with the sound of music! Every second and third period, that is. The jazz bands of Indiana High School practice twice a week, filling the music department with rambunctious noise. The strut of the bass line, the clamoring of the drums, and the vigor of the piano can be identified amid the refreshing storm of sound. Students of all grades and backgrounds face the music and, more importantly, learn how to play it.
Jazz Band I, just one of the ensembles, transports their music elsewhere, in the form of Christmas carols that they perform at elementary schools around the area. Among the student musicians, this is known as “Take-Around Jazz,” an activity they anticipate as festivities start up. Sophomore Amelia Kuzneski, a saxophonist, states, “You only get to play Christmas tunes once a year, and adding a jazz style puts the music on a whole different level. I also enjoy watching the kids get into the holiday spirit and appreciate a type of music that they’re not very accustomed to.”
Whether it’s through orchestra, choir, or jazz band, music provides an outlet for self-expression and deeper learning, allowing students to pursue what interests them. Mr. Jason Olear, the high school’s band director, says, “I love the diversity that jazz brings to music. We can provide a myriad of opportunities and situations for our students at any level to showcase the fantastic talents here at IHS.”
But it’s not just about performing. Being part of a group leads to new friendships within the band. Analyzing music theory gives students a wider understanding of the pieces they’re playing. Studying the history of how jazz originated can lead to more culturally informed musicians.
Tenth grader Paige Mitsko, a trumpeter, says, “Jazz band has not only taught me how to play my instrument, it has taught me to play with individuality. I have discovered that taking chances, whether it’s auditioning for a chair or improvising during a solo, can benefit someone throughout their high school career. The arts department is a vital part of IHS.”
In April, students get to attend workshops and perform alongside a musician brought in through the “Artist In Residency” program. This year’s visitor is Bria Skonberg, a trumpet player, and jazz vocalist. She has been a guest on Harry Connick Jr.’s television show “Harry” and produced her newest album, With A Twist, through Sony Records.
Audiences won’t have to wait until spring to hear what the jazz students have been cooking up because on January 18th at 7:30 P.M., the Jazz Bands of Indiana will perform at the Indiana Senior High School. This is a great opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution to support the arts both in the schools and in the community.
[Photo by Jason Olear]
Photo Caption: “The Indiana High Jazz Band I performs holiday music at St. Bernard Regional Catholic School.”