If you have a taste for Thelonious Monk or Stevie Wonder, you’ll want to drop by Iron Spring Tuesday, May 29 between 5:15 and 9:00 p.m. and catch a special performance of some very talented middle-school musicians. You’ll be glad you did: White Hill Middle School’s kids are truly fabulous. Throughout the 2011-12 school year, they’ve been gathering awards and honors, both as individuals and groups.
The bands get their names from their practice times: AM Jazz meets every weekday morning from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. and PM Jazz meets every afternoon for 45 minutes. With the guidance of their amazing band director Jeremiah Jacks, as well as a mix of talent and a lot of work, the AM and PM Jazz bands won top awards at the Sonoma, Folsom and Reno Jazz Festivals this year. You can listen some of these performances on YouTube.
AM Jazz has some standout individuals, including 8th-graders Tristan Young, Dean Narlock and Daisy Kessler. All three were named to the All-Northern Honor Band—the first time in White Hill history that any student has been awarded this honor. Tristan Young is headed to Marin School of the Arts, or MSA as it’s known, to continue studying jazz trumpet.
I asked Young to tell me about his experience working with Mr. Jacks at White Hill and what makes band so popular with students. “I was so lucky to have him for three years,” he enthused. “He keeps the perfect balance of having fun and getting work done. He knows how to keep everything positive while we play.”
White Hill’s band program, which has grown from 43 kids in 2008 to a projected 105 this year, is part of a strong and popular music department that includes an orchestra and a chorus. Almost 80 percent of the music program at White Hill and the district’s elementary schools exist through funding from YES. Thanks to continuing donations from parents and community, White Hill will add an advanced orchestral group and another choral group in the fall. Next year almost half of the school’s students will participate in some form of music every day.
Come and enjoy some of these great musicians Tuesday night (5/29). I promise you’ll be impressed.