TPHS hosts Jazz Festival for student bands

At 4:54 p.m. on April 13, a crowd gathered around the door of the TPHS Performing Arts Center. At 5:02 p.m., the door opened, the crowd walked through, and the annual SDUHSD Jazz Festival began, featuring bands from eight schools in the district.

“It was pretty cool to see the other schools’ style of jazz bands,” said Zephyr Brumund, a senior who plays the bass in the Canyon Crest Academy jazz band. “They’re different because they’re bigger … it’s a different sound.”

Each school varied in size and style throughout the two-hour concert.

“Whenever I pick music, I try to have a mixture of different styles,” Amy Gelb, the music director of the TPHS and San Dieguito Academy jazz bands, said. “We did one Latin, one swing, one contemporary and then a vocal one.”

The middle school bands opened the night, with the joint Oak Crest Middle School and Diegueno Middle School band playing “Fat Cat” by Doug Beach. 

“I like how [jazz] sounds,” OCMS trumpet player Alan Pecchio said.

“I like the articulations,” OCMS trumpet player Lucy Parkinson added.

Pacific Trails Middle School and Carmel Valley Middle School followed.

“You kind of get stressed before, but then you just breathe, and then you just play,” said PTMS student Steven, who played a solo on the alto saxophone. 

Being able to “just play” takes weeks of practice. The preparation process differed by school. 

“We don’t have a jazz band, and we don’t have a class or a club or anything, so we had to practice in band class,” Chris Johnson, the PTMS band director, said. “We … just threw something together really quick. But the kids are good kids, and they practice hard.” 

At the other schools, jazz band is a class. Gelb said the TPHS band practiced specifically for the festival for the past three or four weeks. 

“As soon as we finished our last concert, we started learning the new pieces,” bass player Emma Schreuder-Welte (11) said. “So probably for a month we were … practicing in class and then on our own at home.”

As the main organizer, Gelb prepared for the festival all year, reserving the PAC and creating the program.

“We’ve been doing [the jazz festival] for several years,” Gelb said. “This is the second year that we’ve hosted in a row … and overall, the event went really smoothly.”

After the middle schools performed, CCA was the first high school to play. 

“Jazz is a type of music that doesn’t really confine you to any boundaries,” said Jacob Chandler, a senior at CCA who plays the keyboard. “You’re allowed to do a little bit of whatever you want.”

La Costa Canyon followed CCA, and after them, SDA. 

“Even at a level of a more amateur musician, the mobility in between the chords that jazz provides and the knowledge of unusual chord shapes provides a more nuanced look on what music can be,” Ruben Duarte, a senior guitarist at SDA, said. 

The TPHS jazz band closed the show with “Moanin’” by Charles Mingus.

“[Jazz] allows you to be creative and think outside the box,” Schreuder-Welte said. “Sometimes our teachers or instructors tell me, ‘You don’t have to play what’s on the page; think of your own things to fill in.’”

The jazz festival not only served to appreciate jazz as a genre, but also to inspire students, especially younger ones, to start or continue their musical instruction. 

“I think the coolest thing about the whole [festival] is seeing the progression from seventh grade,” Gelb said. “Parents and the students can see what comes next.”

According to Alexander Patterson, the director of the CVMS band, “it’s never too late to learn an instrument.”

“I’ve witnessed students start learning an instrument starting in middle school — they worked extremely hard and are now in the high school ensembles,” Patterson said.

The TPHS jazz band will next play at the May 23 Falcon Finale performance.

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