The sounds of jazz could be heard across the McPherson College campus as more than 350 musicians participated in the eighth annual Jazz Festival on November 4.
This year ensembles from 18 area middle and high schools performed and participated in on-stage clinics with professional jazz educators. The clinicians also led sessions covering jazz improvisation and rhythm section issues. This year’s clinicians were Dr. Craig Treinen and Dr. Tom Morgan from Washburn University; Gregg Walker, retired jazz educator and adjunct of woodwinds at McPherson College; and Randy Crow, a hall-of-fame retired music educator from Wichita.
Schools participating in the event included: Abilene, Dodge City, Goddard, Hesston, Junction City, McPherson, Newton, Nickerson, Osage City, Riley County, Salina Central, Smoky Valley, Sterling, Wichita North, and Winfield high schools; McPherson and Smoky Valley middle schools; and McPherson College.
Director of Bands and associate professor of music at McPherson College, Kyle Hopkins, said the idea for the annual jazz festival came from area band directors asking for quality jazz education opportunities. The festival is held each year in the fall, typically a time when marching band overshadows other aspects of a band program, and has grown in size each year.
“Jazz is the quintessential American art form,” Hopkins said. “In studying jazz, you can’t separate the music from the history of jazz, which is American history. What a great thing to teach our kids!”
Awards were given for outstanding individual musicianship and each group was rated and critiqued on its performance by the clinicians.