The Voice

Mourning the Death of Jazz Band

Olivia Basilio, Reporter and Editor

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It’s December. Finals, Christmas break, and finally a new year. New resolutions, new classes, and new scheduling. For everyone except the seniors, scheduling for next year’s classes will begin in January. But for those students who play instruments, the big question is: Will Jazz Band be offered?

The class was killed this year after fewer than five students signed up for the course, resulting in the Jazz Band instructor’s leave from the Pres staff and one less music program at our school.

This leads us to wonder exactly what happened, especially with how much we teenagers seem to love music. What happened to the people who were in jazz band last year? To hear a former jazz band member tell it, the most common reason was, “I wanted more time for things.”

Being on Jazz Band doesn’t seem to be a high priority on anyone’s list anymore. In fact, Jazz Band seems to not have been anybody’s priority except for people directly involved. There were quite a few complaints from members of the band about how little recognition and general activity they got. They certainly hadn’t been as advertised nor had as many shows or fundraisers as our choirs Cantabile and Bella Voce, and their member count had already been dwindling.

The reason for Jazz Band’s obscurity once again lies in the student body itself. A survey at Pres taken in November last year found that Pres girls who played jazz band instruments included nine who played clarinet, seven on the sax, four who played trumpet, and two on trombones, with no tuba players. Only 7% of students interviewed said that they’d be interested in joining Jazz band, though 40% said that they’d be interested in joining a music group if it was offered as a class. 33% of the Pres girls overall play an instrument, and over 90% of these musicians played piano, guitar, or flute.

Last year, in fact, we were so restricted to pianists that Jazz Band was playing the bass section on a keyboard. Pres has enough electronic keyboards to successfully play for a small orchestra. In this question lies the second reason for the overall apathy that lies around this deceased music program.

As enjoyable as music is, it’s not exactly the most appreciated extracurricular activity to bolster a college application. Taking Jazz Band outside of your classes wasn’t nearly as popular as more “academic” clubs such as DECA or Speech and Debate. Pres wanted to try to have Jazz Band as a class during the school day, but according to art teacher Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department Barb Purdy, “Students today feel to get into to college they need to take Honors and AP classes which conflict with elective courses.  If they have to make the choice between an AP class and Jazz Band, most students elect the AP class.”

Jazz Band will have to stay in its grave this year, dead from busy kids and sea of more college-catching activities. It’ll be offered again in hopes for resurrection during spring semester scheduling. Its requiem was silent but jazzy in spirit, mourned by few and missed by fewer.Sure it ended on a flat note, but there’s still some uplifting news to come from this.

There are going to be a ton of open positions for Jazz Band next year.

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Mourning the Death of Jazz Band