Every year students all around the state of Maryland audition for the honor of being selected to the Maryland All-State Jazz ensemble. One of the honors of being in the ensemble, is getting to perform in a special concert which took place on February 24th. This year Wootton sent three talented musicians to the ensemble to perform in the concert: sophomore Jehoon Seo who plays tenor saxophone, senior Arjun Guthal who plays trumpet, and senior Vinesh Sridhar who also plays trumpet.
In order to make the ensemble, you have to go through a difficult audition process. “You go into the band room and you make a recording with the teacher. Depending on your instrument you play a different amount of songs, and they send the recording to judges who score it and determine if you qualify for the ensemble. Improvising helps improve your score,” Seo said.
In order to be skilled enough to make the ensemble it helps to not just be technically good at your instrument, but also knowledgeable about music overall. “I practice which is helpful, but I also listen to a lot of jazz music and that influences me, and helps me be a better musician,” Seo said.
You have to be close to perfect in your audition to qualify for the ensemble. Since they take students from the entire state of Maryland, it is competitive to get a spot, and talented musicians are often turned away. “I play violin and I auditioned for the ensemble. When I was playing I messed up the chromatic scales, and you have to be pretty much perfect so that took away my chances of making the ensemble,” senior Young Kim said.
It is not easy to reach the level of perfection needed to qualify for the ensemble. Students often practice for hours, and are still not at the level needed to get in. “In order to get in it takes a lot of practice and dedication to your instrument,” Guthal said.
When you qualify for the ensemble, you get the honor of performing in a special concert. “It is basically like a mini sleepaway camp, we went on Thursday evening and practiced, then we practiced all day Friday, and then on Saturday February 24th we had a concert which I believe was a good concert,” Seo said.
For the musicians who were apart of this special ensemble, there was an abundance of knowledge to learn and take away from the experience. “Looking back on it, it was a great experience. I learned a lot of of new music stylistic techniques from practice, I learned how to work well with others who I just met, and I also learned a lot from the other musicians in the ensemble because everyone one was very talented. I hope I get to have more experiences like it” Guthal said.