Studio A Jazz Band

   Every morning, the West Ranch band room fills with music from every era of jazz. Studio A Jazz Band plays a variety of songs, from music commissioned by professional musicians to jazz renditions of songs by The Beatles. Jazz gathers every morning during zero period to play and prepare for their upcoming concerts and performances.

   Mr. Leff, West Ranch’s Jazz director, described a typical class period of Studio A Jazz. “I always make sure to start with our warm up for about five to ten minutes,” Leff said. “Then, we will sight-read a piece for five minutes. Afterwards, we will do about two to four pieces for our concert, depending on where we are in the rehearsal process.”

   Jazz holds a total of four school-sponsored concerts: two each semester. Throughout the year, the Studio A Jazz Band also participates in several jazz festivals and competitions outside of school. 

   West Ranch junior and trombone player Anderson Vo explained his favorite part is the performances, “The feeling after the performance is the best.”

   Senior bass player Quinn Sims commented that he enjoys performing the songs commissioned by musicians, “Mr. Leff hires musicians to write pieces for us and we get to perform those. Also, if a student wants to write their own [music], they can.”

   Studio A Jazz Band allows students to have artistic freedom as they are involved in a collaborative and creative process during rehearsal. Students give their input on the pieces presented to them by both the composers and Mr. Leff.

   “The cool thing about jazz music is the improvisation. There are a lot more opportunities for changing things up as opposed to a piece by Beethoven because you don’t want to change Beethoven,” Mr. Leff said.

   As a group, Studio A Jazz Band collaborates with composers and Mr. Leff to create their own, unique sound for each concert. 

   “When we go over the pieces for our concert, we go through different tunes and decide what we want to play,” Sims explained.

   Practicing music early in the morning every day has created a bond between the band, “We get a lot done, we get to work and we are focused on rehearsal, but I think the students and I have this great relationship where we can have fun doing it,” Mr. Leff emphasized. “I mean we’re playing music every day. What’s better than that?”

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