Students explore jazz genre

A lot of students don’t fully understand what jazz is and what kind of jazz classes Southeast Polk has to offer for students.

The high school has three jazz bands: Jazz 1, 2 and 3.

Senior Lucas Bernholtz plays trumpet for Jazz 1 and has been in Jazz 2 since his freshman year.

“Jazz 1 is the main class during school and Jazz 2 and 3 are extracurricular after school stuff,” said Bernholtz.

Sophomore Spencer Clifton plays drum set for Jazz 1 and was in Jazz 2 his freshman year.

“The difference between Jazz 1, 2, and 3 is the intensity, commitment, and skill,” said Clifton.

Jazz 1 goes more in-depth on the different types of jazz, like swing and smooth jazz.

Jayson Gerth who teaches all of the jazz classes has been performing on the side for the past 20 years while teaching jazz.

“Jazz has dozens upon dozens of subcategories, like rock, swing, and big jazz. And within those, there are even more subcategories,” said Gerth “Jazz in of itself is more swing and something very different than classical music.”

Jazz has all of the same elements as any other genre of music including melody, harmony, and rhythm. But what makes Jazz so unique is improvisation soloists do during a piece.

According to The Washington Post, “In jazz, a melody begins a song, but then each musician will take turns improvising, playing all kinds of crazy notes: high, low, long, short, gravelly and clear.”

Because jazz has so many different styles to play in, it can be difficult to have a band match style for a piece and make it sound good.

“Jazz is an art form that must be heard and understood like a language. And what’s tough about teaching jazz is working with students who may not be listening to that language all the time and trying to get it across the entire band,” said Gerth.

A lot of people like jazz because of how many different styles there are and how different it is from any other genre.

“It’s very energetic and fun and I like how it sounds,” said Bernholtz.

Clifton and Bernholtz are just two of the many students in Jazz I that love the different styles of jazz and enjoy listening and playing it.

“Jazz is such a different genre and more unique than others,” said Clifton.

Jazz I practices together. Lizzy Kunze photo.