News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Band builds community through jazz music

The Sisters High School Jazz Band focuses on making community connections as well as musical ones, and the festival they attended last month embodied that ethic.

The band visited West Salem to compete in the 3A division for its eighth annual Jazz Festival. The band had been working towards this competition for about two months, and felt prepared.

With 15 members attending the event, the band was small but mighty. The group performed four musical pieces, playing for 20 minutes on stage before receiving input from the judges.

“The feedback we received was really helpful. It didn’t make us feel bad, it just gave us something to work towards,” said junior Kendall Guiney.

This is her first year of jazz band, and her first official festival.

“It was exciting. You would walk into a room and feel how fun and laid-back everyone was,” Guiney said.

The Outlaws Jazz Combo also attended, with selected students from the jazz band forming the smaller group. They competed in the combo division of the Festival, against nine other bands. This was the SHS Outlaws Jazz Combo’s premiere performance, three years after COVID.

“A lot of the combo participants are so young, I was really impressed with how we played with the time that we had,” said senior Dominic Martinez.

The combo includes six musicians, with ages ranging from 13 to 18. The group’s performance within the Festival was smaller, with a chance for more one-on-one feedback. All members agree that it was a learning experience with a lot of valuable insight toward communication and playing style.

“It was cool to have the combo back together again, even three years ago when we started it wasn’t ever ‘official,’ so it’s nice to see it all working out,” said Martinez.

At the end of the day, the jazz band was provided with accolades, including a second-place trophy in the 3A division and an Outstanding Soloist Award given to eighth-grader Jesus Quero.

“When they called out my name for our school I was really surprised, but also really proud of myself, because I wasn’t expecting the award to be given to me, especially to a 13-year-old eighth grader,” Quero said.

Quero has been a member of the band for a year and a half, beginning in seventh grade playing tenor saxophone. The jazz band has been incorporating musicians of all ages into the class for many years to create connectivity between students, so having a middle schooler performing in the Festival wasn’t unorthodox.

“I aspire to be a part of honor bands throughout high school, especially the Oregon Ambassadors of Music (OAM) like my older sister, Norma Quero,” he said.


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