Jazz Band Takes Center Stage
The Granville Junior Senior High School band room can be a crowded place. With over 50 members enrolled in the Senior High School band, there’s a strong possibility you’ll hear music bouncing around the hallways any time of the day.
While school concerts, sporting events, and parades are perks for band members, some also see performing in the band as an opportunity to earn a seat with the school’s prestigious jazz band.
High School Band Director Jessica Stout serves as the conductor for both the senior band and the jazz band. While every student has the chance to perform with the senior band, the jazz band is more selective. While there aren’t formal auditions for spots in the band, Mrs. Stout emphasizes with her students the amount of work that is required to successfully perform within the group.
“You can’t hide in the crowd with the jazz band,” said Mrs. Stout. “Every single instrument is reliant on those around it to produce the purest sound. It’s smaller in number than the senior band, but it’s louder in voice. Any student willing to put in the work to be successful in the jazz band will be welcomed, but it is a lot of work to become concert ready.”
The jazz band, which consists of students in grades 7-12, is considered the touring band for the Granville Central School District. It has more performance obligations than the senior band, and often plays special functions at the request of community leaders. As a result, Mrs. Stout puts a large emphasis on her students prioritizing practice time to make sure they’re ready for their next show.
“It can be a challenge for students to perform as much as this band is asked to,” said Mrs. Stout. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s also a golden opportunity for some of our talented students to perfect their craft and be ready for chances to play beyond the high school level. We want this band to be a launching pad for bigger stages, and I work hard to make sure no task is too big for any of my students.”
Junior Taylor Hoyt has been a member of the jazz band since the seventh grade. She credits the jazz band for helping create a family-like environment for music lovers, and says it has helped make her a better musician.
“You become closer with other members of the band because you are reliant on them to help you perform at your best,” said Hoyt. “Jazz band allows you to explore individuality within the piece you’re playing, but it wouldn’t carry the same significance if your friends weren’t supporting you along the way.”
Tyler Aldous, a junior trumpet player, wants to be a music teacher one day. He says getting to be part of the jazz band has been a tremendous help towards reaching his goal.
“It falls on older students to help identify and recruit the next generation of jazz band members,” said Aldous. “I want to introduce as many students as possible to what we do in the jazz band and help students understand how the hard work pays off in the long run.”
This year has marked the first time that Mrs. Stout has invited Granville Elementary School students to shadow band members. She says this has helped students understand at a young age the amount of work that’s required of them when they reach the high school level, but it’s also meant to give young students a chance to see how fun a rehearsal can be.
Hoyt says those practice sessions are where students can find their unique musical voices.
“You get to sit down with your friends and step up during a solo that really expresses yourself. It makes you a stronger musician.”
The jazz band is planning to host their annual Jazz Cafe this coming June. It will be open to the entire community and hosted on the front lawn outside Granville High School. Tickets will include food and drink options. The exact date for this year’s Jazz Cafe will be announced in the coming weeks.
The spring semester represents a busy period in the Granville Central School District calendar. Between the Drama Club’s spring performance, to the FFA program preparing for the annual state convention, to every student preparing to take their finals at the end of the year, the Junior-Senior High School is buzzing with anticipation and excitement.
If you ever hear something a little louder than a buzz, that’s most likely the school’s jazz band preparing for their next performance.