Due to district budget cuts this school year, the jazz band at Brier Terrace Middle School was one of the programs to get cut. But, with the help of fundraising held by parents and donations, enough money was raised to keep the band around for one more semester.
This Saturday, Mountlake Terrace High School is hosting a benefit concert for the middle school jazz band to help raise funds in support for the rest of the school year. Mountlake Terrace High School Jazz I and the BTMS jazz band will be performing, joined by Katie Jacobson, MTHS alumni vocalist, and Peter Daniel, BTMS and MTHS graduate. Jeff Kashiwa, Seattle native and contemporary jazz saxophonist, will also be guest performing at the event. The performance starts at 7 p.m. in the MTHS Theater. All of the proceeds go to support the BTMS band program.
“The MTHS Music Boosters and (band director Darin) Faul are trying to support BTMS by providing the performance space (for the benefit concert), by providing things they need for their reception that night, and by claiming them as part of the high school booster club,” Joan Lundquist said, president of the MTHS Music Boosters.
“People are serious about learning music and have a lot of fun doing it,” Rachel Orr said of the 24 students in the BTMS jazz band. A current jazz student at BTMS, she has been in band since 5th grade and plans to pursue it further in high school.
Lauren Krienke, a music student in jazz band at BTMS, has also been in band since 5th grade. “It’s the main thing you look forward to during the day.” Lauren also plans on continuing band in high school.
When asked how the cut of band will affect the students involved, Lundquist replied, “Jazz instruction provides opportunities for students to assess musical situations and to make an immediate response, to perform and interact with other students and professional musicians, to learn good listening skills, to experience working through a piece of music from beginning to end; all these are valuable skills for life.”
Without jazz band, these students would miss out on an integral part of the musical experience.
Senior Jack Walters, former BTMS jazz student and current MTHS Jazz I student, commented that keeping the jazz band in middle school is “important because your experience starts in middle school. Starting as a freshman in high school will leave them behind and takes away from the fun they have in the program.”
Senior band student Peter Bowman commented saying that the cut of jazz band “cuts students’ ability to play different styles of music. Without the class you’re not exposed.”
“The students in the BTMS jazz program are directly benefited by the money raised, but it isn’t just them who are benefited,” stated MTHS band director Darin Faul. “The exposure to jazz in middle school benefits the high school jazz program and evokes the community’s awareness and support.”
“Unfortunately, I am afraid there is a strong possibility that Jazz II will be cut next year, and that would be very painful,” said Lundquist when asked about the possibility of it happening at Mountlake Terrace.
“Without having a crystal ball, I can’t predict what will really be happening next year, and with the budget,” Principal Greg Schwab said.
Because of the amount of support rallied, Saturday’s show is sold out. An encore performance is uncertain, but if funds come short, another show may be in the future. There will also be a gift basket raffle during the show, as well as refreshments for purchase.
Approximately $5,800 was raised to keep the jazz band around as a morning class four days a week this first semester. Parents at BTMS hope to raise $6,700 for next semester, enough to keep the class in the morning five days a week.
Sherrill Leppich, a BTMS parent in support of the jazz band, asked people “not to be afraid to put their voice out there if they feel strongly enough to help us out.” There are many ways to support the program, according to Leppich: write a letter to Edmonds School District Superintendent Nick Brossoit, or to BTMS Principal Kevin Allen expressing the importance of keeping the jazz band at BTMS. “Any vocalization is welcomed.” Donations can also be made out to All That Jazz, the support group at Brier Terrace.
The chances of jazz band coming back next year don’t look so good, but the parents and support group will do all that they can to keep it going.
“There are a lot of well-needed organizations out there that need the help and support, especially this time of year,” Leppich said. “But the fact that we’ve had so many people step up and give us donations or let us know their support or come to meetings and let the principal know how much it means to not cut this program, has been an eye-opener for me.”