Jazz ensembles from four of the county’s high schools got an opportunity to shine on stage on Saturday, playing everything from classic standards to innovative takes on songs from various genres.
The Walkersville, Linganore, Middletown, Oakdale and the all-county ensemble played for their friends, family and community members in the annual Frederick County Public Schools All-County Jazz Festival at Linganore High School. It was an opportunity for students to watch each other play in a non-competitive environment, show their families their progress as musicians and celebrate the importance of music education.
“Jazz is really America’s native music,” said Kevin Lloyd, director of Linganore High School’s ensemble. “I think it’s really critical that kids be introduced to music that was created in their own country. This is really important, not just musically, but historically for students to study.”
Sarah Martin, a senior at Middletown High School, said she’s been playing piano since she was 4 and took on Jazz ensemble to grow as a musician.
“It’s about making music with the entire ensemble to see how the saxophone and the trombone and the trumpet all come together and make some really cool sounds,” she said.
The pianist said she plans on studying to become a music therapist. She was inspired to enter the profession when she learned about former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords learning to talk again with music therapy after being shot in 2011.
“Whenever I’m stressed, I go home and slam on my piano,” said Evan Ruderman, also a senior at Middletown and a pianist in the ensemble. “It is therapy, which is why I think it’s so awesome that [Martin is] going on to do that. For me, it helps me relax and de-stress.”
Ruderman said music is a big part of his life and he appreciates getting to share it with others.
“Music is a really great way to get to know people,” he said. “I only speak English, but I can communicate through music with anyone by jamming together or improvising. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I never want to give it up.”
Middletown residents Art and Molly Staus came to the festival to support one of the students who lives in their neighborhood.
“We also had a son who was in the Middletown program years and years ago,” said Molly Staus. “We try to keep up with performances in the high schools and support the kids.”
Martin said seeing the crowd at the festival gave her hope for the future of the arts in Frederick.
“There should be more support for the arts and the fact that people came out to watch us perform is a sign that Frederick County does,” she said.