Arlington High School’s jazz bands hosted the jazz bands from both local middle schools as part of the annual Jazz Nite at the Byrnes Performing Arts Center.

Haller Middle School and Post Middle School students performed on the stage before Arlington’s jazz bands during the Jan. 10 concert.

“We’ve been doing this for a number of years, and it really gives the jazz bands in middle school a preview of the program that they can go into,” said Arlington High School band director John Grabowski.

School band directors said the event went well.

“It went much better than I thought it would,” said Kathy Medema, Haller Middle School band director.

“We only rehearse three days a week and often we don’t have all the students there because of sports,” she said, but said her students still performed very well.

The students take to the stage throughout the night and watch fellow students.

“I know my kids had a lot of fun,” said Kipp Otterness, Post Middle School band director. “They like to see other kids shining in their element."

Otterness said the high school's Jazz 2 band's performance was one of the strongest he’s ever seen.

“My most gratifying part is my Jazz 2 band, who are coming just out of middle school into high school, and seeing the leap forward they have made,” said Grabowski. “They were able to play a professional chart that would be made for a professional orchestra."

The night is beneficial for students who want to continue with jazz into high school, said Medema.

“For some of the seventh-graders this will be the first time they hear the high school kids play,” she said.

“It ends up being very inspiring for many of them,” she said.

“It’s a really eye-opening experience for them to see older kids with a little more experience and how well they can play,” said Otterness.

Grabowski said students can show the progress they have made throughout the years.

“They can see that they can go from these easy rhythms all the way to these very complex and professional compositions,” he said.

Medema also likes that the night tends to help show middle school students what professional jazz music can sound like.

“I would venture to say that none of them really ever listen to jazz outside of school either, except for one of my students,” who has a family member who is a jazz musician, she said.

“I tell them it’s a truly American art form and all that, but nights like this are often the first time they get to hear what it can be,” she said. 

For Grabowski’s high school bands, the night was more challenging than normal as they were stretched thin.

“The best part is that we were split between two parts of the school for the show,” he said, as a basketball game was going on at the same time that needed their school’s band.

He wanted to thank the four drum majors who helped lead the band at the basketball game while he lead the concert band. Those students were Hannah Poteet, Kathryn Stevenson, Mikayla Bratten and Nina Cameron.

“Without me there to direct them they were able to manage that game,” he said, “and I wouldn’t have done that without my confidence I had in their leadership.”

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