Jazz band readies for upcoming championship

By: Allie Taiber

Saturday, March 5, Jazz One and Jazz Too! competed in the North East Iowa Band Association (NEIBA) competition, taking place at West High School, pushing Jazz One to the upcoming Class 4A championship festival on April 5 and Jazz Too! to a strong finish of its season.

Senior trumpet player Sierra Steen, one of the 18 members of Jazz One, said, “The success feels really good. Our jazz band has come a long way with all the early morning and late night practices. Being able to see all of our hard work pay off is really nice, especially since we did so well in our last two competitions.”

In their first event of the season, Saturday, Feb. 20, the band competed in the Tall Corn Festival at the Gallagher Bluedorn. Tying for fourth place put them in a good position as they moved forward to prepare for their upcoming competition that took place the March 5 weekend, NEIBA.

With early morning practices from 7 a.m. to 7:50 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, in addition to late night Monday practices from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Jazz One’s hard work and dedication is clearly paying off.

“Joining jazz band is a choice that you make. I think that being in it forces you to put in that extra work you don’t need to do, which makes us work harder and more dedicated to our music,” Steen said.

Jazz One conductor Kyle Engelhardt shared some about the experience of working with musicians of such talent.

“The jazz students work hard to play a great variety of music, from classic jazz and swing to modern funk. It’s fun to hear what they can do, and it’s great to see their growth throughout the year,” Engelhardt said.

As the jazz season comes to an end, the musicians are hoping for something good, “It’s definitely sad that it’s my last year. Jazz band has built up my confidence both in music and outside of it. Playing improv solos, meeting and talking to a lot of different people has overall made me a more outgoing person,” Steen said.

Engelhardt said he hopes for jazz to have the similar positive impact it had on his life for his students — no matter how the competition goes.

“It’s been fun to see students from Cedar Falls enjoy the music as much as I do, and many have gone on to play in college and into their adult careers. It’s a lifelong love of jazz.”

But the season is not over yet, and hopes are high for Steen. “I’m just hoping we go out with a bang,” she said.

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