TC Students Make the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble

Students on bass, trumpet and piano all made the ensemble.

Katie Vastola and Abigail Ernst

T.C. Junior Brendan Putnam on drums and senior Patrick Kenny on bass both made the All-Virginia Jazz ensemble, while junior Tucker Stone on trumpet, junior Ellie Lo on piano, and freshman Zacharia Stover on bass are alternates. The ensemble is a selected group of musicians, all from Virginia, that perform in concerts together.

The T.C. Band teacher, Doug Rogers said, “I am so proud of all our students who auditioned and especially the students making the ensemble or as an alternate.” 

Brendan Putnam plays the drums. Courtesy of Brendan Putnam.

Prior to auditions, students had an ètude, a short musical composition, to prepare and focus on improving and broadening their range of major scales. They were given about a month to have a prepared song to play.

Auditions were held virtually with multiple parts. Those who played the saxophone, trumpet, and trombone had major scales and a chromatic scale. Rhythm players, which include piano, guitar, bass, and drums, needed to play various styles of jazz music to demonstrate their broad range of music. Each student had to perform a sight-reading piece. They were each given 30 seconds to memorize the song before playing. Once students submitted their recorded audition, judges would critique them based on tone, jazz style, improvisation, time, and other skills.

Stone said, “The auditions were very different from a normal year. I would say they were less stressful, since they were virtual.” 

Putnam said, “The achievement is a reminder of all of my hard work and dedication I have put into my instrument over the years.”

Tucker Stone plays the trumpet. Courtesy of Tucker Stone.

Rogers had all of his students audition by making it an assignment. He said, “Since you are learning the music anyway, why not audition.” This allowed for more students to take the opportunity, which ended in a greater number of students making the ensemble.

“It was really awesome that I could audition and make it in as a first alternate – it really means a lot to me. It helps me feel more confident in my playing skills and assures me that I have the ability to grow if I try to,” Lo said. 

Students who made it as alternates may have the opportunity to play if another student could not or did not want to be a part of the All-Virginia Jazz Ensemble. There is a certain number of alternates for each instrument. In the event that something happens to the students who made it the alternates would take their place.

Since being selected for the All-State Jazz Band, Putnam and Kenny are now learning music and new skills through the director Dr. Doug Ownens, who works at Old Dominion University. Everything is done through videos sent in and are later added to create a virtual performance posted on YouTube.

Patrick Kenny strumming the bass. Courtesy of Patrick Kenny.

Kenny said, “In a year when there are not as many opportunities to play music, it is very special to get to work with other musicians even when the setting is virtual.” 

Rogers said, “I am glad the students took the time out of their busy virtual life to put some hard work into preparing for the audition.”