Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's the Jazziest

Tonight we went to the junior high school to watch the two 7th grade jazz bands perform. Sean played his electric guitar in the second band. The first band warmed up on stage, giving us a sort of mini-concert. By the time Sean's band performed, we'd heard the songs at least twice.

I found it interesting to note the differences in the two bands. I'm not talking about talent or which band was better than the other. This was the first time Summit offered a jazz band and while there were try outs, the talent was deep enough and the interest was large enough to compel the band director to create two bands. That's impressive by itself. What I'm referring to is how different kids in each band acted and reacted to the music they were playing. Some kids had tapping toes, intent on keeping the beat perfectly while others bobbed and swayed with the songs, obviously feeling the music.

Some of the kids played solos. They stepped up to the mike, took a breath and played. After each solo, their shoulders dropped and huge smiles burst forth as the stress of the solo was released. The audience, comprised mainly of family and friends, enthusiastically applauded every single soloist. It was enough to warm the coldest of souls.

It may  not be smart of me to admit it, but I'm not all that fond of jazz music. Aside from the fact that brass instruments trigger my migraines, I just don't find jazz music all that compelling. Tonight, however, watching the kids come to life while playing, gave me a new appreciation for this revered music genre. That reverence was only enhanced when the 8th grade band began their performance.

As they took the stage, I leaned over to my mom and said, "I'm excited to hear what a difference a year makes." Even being prepared to hear a difference, I had no idea what I was in for. The talent in the 8th grade band is astoundingly deep. This band has toured and competed across the Midwest and  one saxophone player won Outstanding Middle Grade Soloist in the University of Kansas Jazz Festival. This kid could play professionally now. The astounding thing is, he isn't the only one. This band could play professionally right now. When you consider it's made up of kids who are in their very early teens, the skill they showed tonight was amazing. We did not attend a junior high school band recital tonight. We attended a jazz concert.

On the way home, Sean was animated in the back seat of the car. Sitting next to his grandmother, he talked about getting the tunes stuck in his head, getting up early every Tuesday and Thursday in order to be ready for rehearsals at 6:45am and how nervous he was when he first went on stage but how those nerves flew away when the music started. The music fever hit and after his shower, he immediately went to his room and began playing again. Amp off, door shut, we heard a muted version of the concert we'd just left, with a few of his own riffs tossed in for fun and dare I say, to jazz it up?

The best thing about tonight? I enjoyed every minute of it and I left without a migraine!

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