Many students are not aware of the efforts of the jazz bands, especially when it comes to jazz festivals. They are an opportunity for the jazz bands and choir to showcase the pieces they have practiced in the months preceding the festival. On March 18, they exhibited their skills in the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival. The jazz band teacher, Allison McIvor and musicians had many accomplishments.
At each festival, bands can showcase their musical pieces; however, they all have their own differences that make them unique. For the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival, there is a larger demographic of schools performing over a longer time frame.
“The Santa Cruz festival is a two day festival where jazz bands and jazz choirs from all over the state come together and perform for a panel of judges and/or other bands, as well as the community,” McIvor said. “It’s just a huge music festival solely for jazz.”
As the bands play, their performances are observed by judges who score them based on the quality of their playing with a point system.
“It is different for every festival, but for Santa Cruz, they have ones as the top rating and fours as the lowest rating,” McIvor said.
After the band performs in front of the judges, they are taken into a separate room for a sight reading clinic. This clinic is meant to improve the musicians’ music reading skills.
“We’ll go into a room and the players will get a piece of music they’ve never seen before, and I get a couple of minutes to choose which piece we will play. They have five minutes to look over it with my assistance and then we just play and hope we play as well as we possibly can,” McIvor said.
The players enjoy these festivals because it is an opportunity to show off and improve their skills.
“I’ve only been to a few [jazz festivals], but the ones I have been to seemed really fun,” freshman and Tenor saxophonist Spencer Farrington said, “I had a really good time with all the people, the playing is nice and the clinicians we get after makes us a better band.”