Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 18, 2014

THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

TAHLEQUAH — It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.

The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.

“They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

Aaron Wright, a senior, sits in the band’s trombone section.

“We play in the other school bands,” Wright said. “But I really enjoy the opportunity to play jazz. There is more freedom.”

Josh Holcomb, also a senior, is among the trumpet players.

“I love this band,” he said. “We’re all here for the music. It’s a chance to hang out with your friends, and I love the energy.”

Dr. Tommy Poole, director of Jazz Studies at Northeastern State University, drops by on occasion to work with the students.

“We are so grateful for that,” said senior Anne Linebarger, who plays trumpet. “NSU has an incredible jazz program, and Dr. Poole has taken an interest in us. Everyone puts a lot into this, even if it is optional. I don’t know how good we sound after getting here by 7 a.m., but the music is energetic and wakes us up.”

Poole said he has no concerns about how well the band performs.

“They are already a great ensemble with good precision,” he said. “I walked in and was like ‘wow.’ I didn’t expect them to play at that level. You can hear a lot of excitement among the students and in their music.”

The jazz band has been unable to attend any workshops or competitions, but has scheduled a performance at the THS Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, May 6 at 7 p.m.

“Part of the problem was, we had so many snow days,” Landis said. “The students had lost so much class time and we didn’t want to impose on their studies. The great thing about our concert at the end of the year is that we will include vocals.”

Another difficulty is that the jazz band is an unfunded activity.

“Of course, we would love to see the program funded,” Landis said. “I know there is only so much room in the budget, and choices must be made.”

Landis said he and the students meet outside school hours because they believe a jazz band enhances the THS music program.

“Jazz band is an opportunity to learn different styles,” Landis said. “It isn’t as rigid as other forms of music, and offers freedom and teaches improvisation. I believe it can make the entire music program that much better. All of the jazz students perform with other school bands.”

Members of the band include Jerry McDonald, Dash Harbour, Bradley Soliman, Zach Dunn and Alex Carroll on sax; Bradley Corbett, Aaron Wright, Meredith Cott and Jamie Price on trombone; Ben Stone, Josh Holcomb, Anne Linebarger, Jessica Woitte and Alex Tenney on trumpet; Andrew Lindroth on drums, James Baber on bass, and pianist Emily Chaffin.


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