By Daryn ’22
As someone who has been in the jazz program since 8th grade, I can tell you from experience that it is one of the most exciting electives at HW. The combination of school concerts, jazz festivals, and field trips makes for an incredibly fulfilling experience. It all starts in 7th grade.
As one of the top saxophones in Symphonic Band, I was able to audition at the end of 7th grade for a spot in the Middle School Jazz Band which is only available to 8th and 9th graders. Auditioning is as simple as performing a set number of scales, a prepared jazz song, and possibly some sight-reading. If you are not familiar with a jazz band, a typical band is comprised of 5 saxophone players (2 Alto, 2 Tenor, and 1 Baritone), 5 trombones, 5 trumpets, 2 drummers, 2 bassists, 2 guitarists, and 2 pianists.
In the middle school Jazz Band, there are usually 2 main jazz concerts throughout the year with some smaller performances in between. When I was in 8th grade, the Jazz Band along with the Symphony Orchestra and Madrigals Choir all took a 5 day trip to Seattle, Washington. We performed for a World Strides competition and brought home a silver medal! But more than playing jazz, we got to tour the city, visit the Skyneedle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, and many more!
At the upper school, you will need to audition again to be correctly placed into one of the 3 jazz bands. The lowest level is the Jazz Ensemble, followed by the Studio Jazz Band, and finally, the Jazz Band being the flagship. Each band is also comprised of 2 combos which are smaller compositions of the band that are selected to further represent that band. The upper school also takes a trip out of the country once every 2 years. This trip, however, is restricted to only the top Jazz Band as well as the top combo in Studio Jazz Band. In previous years they have gone to Japan, and are planning to go to Poland and Czech Republic to perform and tour this Spring Break.
Despite all the fun Jazz Band is, it is also an elective that requires a lot of commitment to the program. Without adequate practice outside of class, you may not be able to succeed in Jazz Band. If you’re willing to put in the work, love playing music, and looking for opportunities to tour new places, Jazz Band is certainly an elective you will want to consider!