Peet kicking off jazz season

Peet Junior High students gathered in the band room at 6:50 am last Wednesday, Nov. 10 for the first jazz band practice of the 2021-2022 school year. 

This year’s jazz band has 30 members, more than ever before, which eighth and ninth grade band teacher Ben Byersdorfer said he believes gives the band an advantage. “The more kids you have, the more energy is brought to the room,” he said. 

He has been conducting jazz band at Peet for 18 years but admits that it was confusing for him at first. “I didn’t understand why we put the parts where they’re at—where they sit and stand and things like that—I didn’t understand it completely,” he said. “But over the years, you learn and you bring in people and you ask questions, and a lot of my friends who have more experience teaching jazz band helped me to figure out how it should be set up, how it should be taught, what approach to take, so I had a lot to learn.”

The band is organized with higher pitched instruments in the front, lower pitched instruments in the back and percussion and string instruments to the side, similar to the layout of the concert band.

In the front row are many saxophone players, including freshman Cadence Smith, who has been a part of the Peet Junior High jazz band since eighth grade and is now the leader of the second alto saxophone section. 

For her, jazz band will be much different this year from last year. “I’ve always been the youngest one in jazz band, and now I have eighth graders looking up to me. I also think it’s going to be a lot different without masks,” she said, “but the best part of jazz band is hating half the music we get at first, then loving it a week later.” 

For Byersdorfer, the uniqueness of each day, week and year is the best part. He said, “Every year is different, and that’s why I love my job. I never get bored of it.”

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