The Jazz Band has been a popular group over the years—a place where students have bonded over music and formed valuable relationships. For two hours every Tuesday night, students assemble to play.
For Sixth Former and dedicated musician Decker Patterson, Jazz Band has been a pivotal part of his high school experience.
“I’ve been going to Jazz Band for four years now, and it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life,” Patterson said. “You get together with the guys, you get to play your instruments, and you have fun. Because of that, I think it’s been a really great experience for me, and I think for a lot of the guys as well.”
The pandemic has limited the Jazz Band’s presence to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, students were unable to follow the familiar pattern of rehearsing and performing, missing out on previous years’ interactions.
Patterson said, “The main [difference] is that we can’t get together. A lot of what Jazz Band was about was the camaraderie between all the guys in there and the fact that we could get together. Now we’ve got to do it over the phone. It’s a bit depressing that way, so I think we’re overall just missing that camaraderie between the boys.”
Jazz Band teacher Phil Giangiordano feels the difficulties of operating the club virtually too.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Mr. Giangiordano said. “We’re used to rehearsing every Tuesday night with everybody there. I just thought the best way to do it was to let [the students] learn the music individually. The approach I took ultimately worked because we were able to get a song together.”
“So what I miss most is getting to play together and having rehearsals and performances as an ensemble. It’s a nice feeling when the band sits down with a piece of music together and it sounds really good.”Jazz Band teacher Phil Giangiordano
By recording the individual parts and putting them together, the band put out a finished product for the virtual winter concert. Although the group managed to create a song, they were hampered by the restrictions and could not learn the music in the most effective way.
“What really has to happen is, and I’m talking from our band to professionals, is that they need to play together,” Mr. Giangiordano said. “So what I miss most is getting to play together and having rehearsals and performances as an ensemble. It’s a nice feeling when the band sits down with a piece of music together and it sounds really good.”
Patterson agreed with the assessment that students have not gotten the full Jazz Band experience this year.
“A whole lot of Jazz Band is being in-person, getting to hang out with [Mr. Giangiordano] on Tuesday nights,” Patterson said.
Although this year’s students have not received all that the club has to offer, the fact that the band was able to play at all is still an impressive achievement.
“There’s the old saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” Mr. Giangiordano said. “And when I look back on the year, I think we did the best we could under the circumstances.”