A virtuosic phrase in the time meter of ¾ breezes by as the students of Joe Cherwink bring out their inner Coltrane and Davis, playing phenomenal solos to a backing track inspired by“All Blues” by Miles Davis in the last period of the day. They commit to such unique endeavors in hopes of producing the most superb solos at the test of supremacy at the Region Jazz Tryouts for the Katy ISD area. Whilst they work on producing such chill-driven solos that speak loud and beautifully to the ears of any who hear it, they also prepare their technical abilities in the learning of three etudes (technical compositions of music to further develop musicianship) specifically designed for an instrument skill to develop in each one. As the audition nears, they hesitate not in the slightest amount to express in all euphoria their love for jazz and hopes to be among the best of jazz players in their area.
“Over the summer, I would look over the etudes a couple times a week 30 minutes at a time. Through time that small effort would accumulate into my placement into the jazz region band,” said senior Will Rogers, trumpet player of the Tompkins Jazz Ensemble.
Preparation for such a high expecting audition requires insulation being added to one’s skill over time. By starting early in the learning of such technical etudes, Rogers was able to dissect the technical challenges of the etude at his own pace during the summer and then to receive vast coaching by Joe Cherwink, jazz director at Tompkins. He described that his experience with the etudes were made much more easygoing by practicing over time instead of learning everything at a fast pace a couple weeks before. This enabled him to earn the second chair position in the second jazz band in the region.
“I had to improve my playing minimally, focusing more on actually interpreting the music on the page into something musical and of my own style,” said Rogers.
The way the audition process works is the candidates are provided with a packet containing 3 technical etudes,each centered around a certain skill/purpose to improve, to learn for each instrument. They are also presented with an improvisation etude usually derived off of a original jazz chart, such as “So What” by Miles Davis, in which they must show off their skills at soloing on their instrument by spelling complex chords and articulating varying rhythms in a swung style in their own manner.
“Throughout summer, break I prepared my etudes by listening to the recordings done by other professional trombonists; I would try working one to two measures at a time at a slow tempo and gradually speed up,” said junior William Duda, new trombonist in the jazz program.
Duda has always been a part of the band program itself.He enrolled in the jazz classroom, and prepared his etudes diligently throughout the time he was given with plenty of hard work and aspiration. His placement did not disappoint him for his very first year in the jazz arts. He did not place in the region band this year, but he was only two spots away from being there, which he considered an impressive start. His plan is to possibly place in the top trombone players of the region in his final year at Tompkins High School.