Musicians advance to All-State Jazz Band

Members look forward to playing instruments

When band teacher Steven Schmitz informed sophomores Ben Klepfer, Marco Giovannelli and freshman Elliot Rickert they had advanced into the All-State Jazz Band, they felt relieved.

According to Klepfer, the All-State Jazz Band requires auditioners to submit a recorded video of them playing their instrument.

“It was a recorded (audition), which makes it easier because you can do a lot of different takes,” Klepfer said. “But it was still pretty difficult because the music is pretty challenging.”

Rickert said his auditioning experience proved intense.

“It was pretty stressful,” Rickert said. “We had to practice two songs which were actually really difficult, and then just scales and (improvisation) which is always pretty difficult.”

According to Schmitz, the number of students who make it into the All-State Jazz Band each year remains unpredictable.  

“Usually on a good year we’ll have one student make it (into the All-State Jazz Band) and some years zero, so three is really unprecedented,” Schmitz said.

Giovannelli said he felt pressure to audition well in order to earn the single piano spot.

“(There were spots for) four trumpets, four trombones, four saxophones but (only) one piano,” Giovannelli said. “I had to be the best.”

Klepfer said he accepted a spot playing trumpet in the All-State Jazz Band last year and enjoys returning to the band.

“I got in last year,” Klepfer said. “I like the music a little more this year than I did last year and it’s more featuring because I play lead on it.”

Giovannelli said he was impressed with his first day rehearsing with the All-State Jazz Band.

(We’ve) had (one) rehearsal and it sounds really good,” Giovannelli said. “It was better than I expected in terms of talent.”

Schmitz said students who are looking to make it into the All-State Jazz Band should allow enough time to prepare for their audition.

It’s best to have a private teacher or ask me for help. It’s really smart to start early,” Schmitz said. “These things can’t be put together in a matter of weeks, it’s really months ahead of time. You’ve got to be planning.”