Indiana High School’s jazz bands practice twice a week, filling the music department with exuberant noise. The strength of the bass line, the clamor of the drums and the vigor of the piano can be identified amid the refreshing sonic storm. Students of all levels and backgrounds face the music and, more importantly, learn to play it.
Jazz Band I, one of the ensembles, takes their music elsewhere, in the form of Christmas carols which they perform in elementary schools in the area. Among student musicians, it’s called “Take-Around Jazz,” an activity they anticipate as the festivities begin.
Sophomore Amelia Kuzneski, a saxophonist, said, “You can only play Christmas tunes once a year, and adding a jazz flair takes the music to a whole new level. I also enjoy watching the kids get into the holiday spirit and enjoy a type of music they aren’t very used to.
Whether through an 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, director of the high school orchestra, said, “I love the diversity that jazz brings to the music. We can provide a myriad of opportunities and situations for our students at all levels to showcase the fantastic talent here at IHS.
But it’s not just about performing. Being part of a group leads to new friendships within the group.
Music theory analysis gives students a better understanding of the pieces they are playing. Studying the origin story of jazz can lead to more culturally informed musicians.
Paige Mitsko, a tenth grade student, trumpeter, said, “The jazz band didn’t just teach me how to play my instrument, it taught me how to play with individuality. I’ve found that taking risks, 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 can attend workshops and perform alongside a musician recruited as part of the “Artist in Residence” program. This year’s visitor is Bria Skonberg, trumpeter and jazz singer.
She was a guest on Harry Connick Jr.’s “Harry” TV show and produced her latest album, “With a Twist,” through Sony Records.
Audiences won’t have to wait until spring to hear what jazz students have been up to because on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Indiana Jazz Bands will perform at Indiana Senior High School.
This is a great opportunity to make a New Year’s resolution to support the arts both in schools and in the community.