Musicians transition to winter groups

Some hard work and musical talent really pays off. Two, or rather three, big ways are through concert choir and jazz band, both which are up and running, and their directors are fired up and excited for these seasons.

Students have auditioned for both concert choir and jazz band, concert choir having auditioned back in February for this 2013-2014 school year, where jazz band auditions were back in October of this school year.

The jazz band actually has two sections: Jazz I and Jazz, Too! Band director Kyle Engelhardt is the director of Jazz I, and band director Gerald Ramsey is the director of Jazz, Too!

Jazz I has 19 musicians and Jazz, Too! has just three more musicians making a grand total of 22 musicians.

The more advanced musicians earned spots on Jazz I, and the rest of the talented musicians earned spots on Jazz, Too!

Jazz I has chosen some of its pieces already: a modern blues by Piece Giering, a more classic piece called “When You’re Smiling” and an Afro-Cuban piece titled “African Skies.”

This year the Jazz Bands will be “focusing on soloing and improv,” according to  Engelhardt.

Solos and improvisation are two very big parts of jazz. Improvisation allows the musician to come up with their own little spins on pieces of music by adding and playing some bars and a collection of notes that stay within the rhythm and can be carried out for a specific amount of time before they rejoin the rest of the group. This gives the song a little extra flare.

Jazz, Too! hasn’t finalized what all songs it will be performing for its shows and are still reading some music. So far the group has read pieces like a jazz waltz called “The Next Chapter” and “As Light Though the Leaves.”

“Playing the music with the kids and performing,” Ramsey said was the the thing he was looking forward to the most about this jazz season, and Engelhardt said that he was most looking forward to “learning a wide variety and covering a lot of music and playing a lot of styles.”

Jazz I and Jazz, Too! practice every Monday evening at 8 p.m. and Wednesday and Friday at 7 a.m. This is the first year of Monday night practices, and so far there have been a “few evening conflicts, but the kids want to play, so they [make their] schedules work out,” Ramsey said.

Jazz I and Jazz, Too! will have their first performances on Jan. 27 at the state jazz festival.

Concert Choir is an advanced group of skilled singers led by choir director Elliot Kranz. This group of 55 singers practices every day during second hour in the choir room. According to Kranz, there are always between 50 to 60 students in concert choir every year.

This October concert choir members voiced their hearts out in their fall concert back on the 22nd, and they are preparing for their winter concert on Dec. 6 this year, where they will be performing some holiday tunes.

Kranz said that during auditions he “looks for students that can read music without [him] accompanying with the piano, good tone and students whose voices are ‘blendable’ with the rest of the group.”

Kranz said that his favorite part of concert choir is “the level of music is more advanced and is in depth. It’s [closer] to college level.”

Concert choir and both jazz bands will have their pops concerts next semester: concert choir in January and jazz band in May.

The orchestra, of course, is also ready for upcoming performances, but the members do not have to try for any exclusive groups as the band and choir have done. The orchestra will host a winter symphony on Dec. 12 and a pops concert on Feb. 13. All three music groups will be sending their All State musicians to practice and perform in Ames on Nov. 21-23, and this performance will

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