Jazz Ensemble spices up middle school band music

Olyvia Fleming, Yearbook Editor

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After the First World War, a new genre of music rose to popularity: smooth jazz. Jazz music has been around for over 100 years and millions of people listen to jazz every day. Even Sevier Middle has a Jazz ensemble, called Jazz Band.

A select few musicians from seventh and eighth grade band classes joined the after-school ensemble. Some of the instruments used as a part of the Jazz Band are the flute, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor sax, baritone saxophone, trumpet, french horn, euphonium, trombone, tuba, and rhythm instruments such as a drum set and bass.

Hunter Mullins, the band director, also directs the jazz ensemble.

“Sevier is one of a very small handful of middle schools in our state running a regular jazz band,” he said. “It provides an opportunity for students to grow in areas of leadership, responsibility, teamwork, cultural diversity, and historical understanding of our American music heritage.”

The students in jazz band rehearse on Mondays after school until 3:15. For some students in other extra curricular activities, getting to rehearsal and practicing can be tedious.

“My least favorite part of participating in jazz band is having to stay after school to participate in it,” Joshua Adedokun, an eighth grade student, said.

Jazz band is different from regular band in several ways.

“For starters, jazz band is mostly made up of our more dedicated musicians,” Alex Grygotis, an eighth grade student, said. “For instance, our higher chair students are in jazz band. Secondly, the music is, of course, jazz and is very fun to play.”

The jazz ensemble also provides students with the opportunity to play jazz music rather than regular band music. Band music typically is more modern, loud music while jazz is a slower, classical type of music.

Some students like the slower and jazzier music and others prefer typical jazz music.

“[Jazz music] is more difficult,” Andrew Stewart, a seventh grade student, said.

Adedokun has a different view on the difficulty of the music.

“The music in Jazz Band is slightly more difficult than normal band music,” he said.

Most students, such as Grygotis, enjoy being a member of the jazz band.

“I get to meet more people and I also get to play an instrument that I don’t regularly play at school,” he said.

The jazz ensemble plays a few different songs at performances and has different opportunities to perform. So far, the jazz band has played in the Kingsport Christmas Parade and an extra song in the seventh and eighth grade holiday concert.

“My favorite experience with jazz band has been the two Christmas parades that I have been a part of because of how much fun it is to be a part of something like that,” Adedokun said.

Grygotis enjoyed the holiday concert more.

“My favorite performance with jazz band was performing at the Christmas Concert at Eastman Auditorium,” he said. “I have never played in front of such an enormous audience.”

Mullins also has a favorite part of Jazz Band.

“The best experiences are always in rehearsal,” he said. “Performances are great, but the ‘ah-ha’ and ‘eureka’ moments that occur through the discovery-of-learning-through-doing process are what stick with me and the students present.”

There are a few things that the members want other students to know about Jazz Band.

“Jazz Band is a fun experience that you shouldn’t miss out on, especially if you enjoy playing your instrument,” says Grygotis.

Mullins has some advice for aspiring students that would like to join the jazz ensemble.

“Listening to jazz is the best place to start,” he said. “Become familiar with some of the iconic individuals, styles, and periods of jazz. Inspiration and emulation manifest through exposure.”

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