The Pella jazz band program has maintained a steady career of excellence at Pella High. The varsity Jazz 1 has brought home back-to-back 3A state championship wins for the last two years, and the program has won 16 Iowa Jazz Championship titles in total, which is a state record.
This year, the program is returning with three different jazz bands that are currently preparing their sets and will officially start their competition season in the second semester. These bands are made of 58 students in total, which is a big increase from the past years.
“It’s really encouraging to see that many people interested, and it makes it fun when kids want to do stuff,” said director Dameon Place. “It’s been more work, obviously, but it’s work that’s worth it because it’s fun to have that many kids involved in jazz.”
In previous years, the program included Jazz 1 and Jazz 2, but due to large interest in signing up from newcomers, it was expanded into three jazz bands: Jazz 1, Jazz 2 AM, and Jazz 2 PM. Jazz 1 and Jazz 2 PM are directed by Dameon Place, while Jazz 2 AM is directed by Gabe Schott.
“I like all the kinds of music that we play in jazz band,” said sophomore Troy Miller. “It’s something different, which is fun.” Miller plays the drum set in Jazz 2 PM.
Students in the jazz band program play all kinds of rock, funk, Latin music, and of course, jazz. These genres of music are both challenging and fun for students to learn. Typically, they will play standards or songs from renowned jazz legends.
“I love the artform. I think it’s cool, and I love the music. It’s like truly American, and that’s fun,” said Place. “I want all the jazz bands to be able to play up to their potential. I want them to be really good, and I want kids to enjoy playing that kind of music.”
•Gavin Klein, firstname.lastname@example.org