Developing young jazz talent in Sisters

 

Last updated 2/20/2024 at 9:01am



Many people around the world share a love for jazz, but seldom do they have the chance to learn and play with professionals in public settings. 

Robert Sposato, an avid jazz enthusiast, organizes events to expose young musicians around Central Oregon to what it feels like. Traditionally, these jams have taken place in The Belfry, but new connections with band director Kayla Golka and an emerging generation of young players made the Sisters High School auditorium the new location for a recent jam event.

“When Kayla Golka offered the high school auditorium and all its facilities and amenities, it was a no-brainer for me,” said Sposato. “Previously we had to haul all kinds of equipment, but at the high school the full slate of instruments and sound and lights were all right there for us! So many students volunteered to help, I felt like I was on vacation!”

The first performance in the auditorium took place on February 1, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.. It included 19 students from around Central Oregon. Many of these players felt timid about playing in a public setting, but by the end all of them had gained confidence.

“I was pretty nervous at the beginning, but then I realized, ‘Hey this isn’t so bad, it’s actually really fun!” said senior trumpet player Kendall Guiney.

The professional players who attended included Ken Piaruli on piano, Rick Homer on trumpet, Tom Freedman on bass, and Karl Lindgren on drums. The presence of these seasoned musicians helped the younger ones feel more at ease.

This confidence built toward an event the jazz band attended last Saturday. The West Salem Jazz Festival was a chance for the students to showcase their hard work that had been put in the classroom, during the jazz jams, and at home.

The Sisters High School Jazz Band gained second place against Pleasantville High School, and felt satisfied with their placing.

“I felt like we did better than I expected. Everybody in the band is pretty new, so it’s going to take some work to get to where we want to be,” said Junior Micah Dachtler. 

This statement bears truth, with the band consisting of five eighth-graders, four freshman, three sophomores, one junior and senior.

“I think we grew a lot as a band, especially about the value of style. Notes and rhythms are hard, but learning to be emotionally evocative was our biggest takeaway,” said Golka.

Currently the band is working towards their upcoming concert on March 7, and the Jewell Band Festival on April 5.

 

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