Swing Time at Geneva High School


Nico Gonnella, Guest Contributor

Welcome to the Geneva High School Jazz Band where students take a trip back in time, while staying in time. The program contains two bands with many ambitious students and a plethora of opportunities and music played across the decades. New experiences such as playing in front of large audiences, collaborating at clinics, and jamming to music are common for the jazz students.

“We have a jazz program that is led by our two directors Mr. Frederick and Mr. Shipton,” Steven Meyer, a pianist and trumpetist for jazz one said. “Mr. Frederick typically leads our jazz band one, which is an audition jazz band, and Mr. Shipton leads our jazz two, which is mainly for people who are looking to learn a little bit more about jazz.”

The swing season has officially begun as jazz one had its first practice of the year last Monday from 7-9 pm while the second band nears its first rehearsal this Thursday from 5:30-7:30 pm.

The second band does not involve an audition and tends to see a greater number of students who play all instruments like a big band ensemble. However, jazz one has a limited number of seats with only traditional jazz instruments including saxophone, trombone, trumpet, drum set, guitar, vibraphone, piano, and electric or standing bass.

“It is smaller and more advanced, and we do little concerts throughout the year,” Charlie Curione, a drummer for jazz one said.

The smaller numbers and audition process leaves a band full of extremely dedicated musicians to play more difficult charts and experience the jazz community.

Each year, all the jazz students are taken to a clinic to work with highly regarded jazz big bands and to collaborate with other high schools. During their sophomore year, both interviewees had the opportunity to go to New Trier High School.

“My favorite memory of jazz band is probably going with both jazz bands 1 and 2 to the New Trier jazz festival a few years ago,” Meyer said. “We all rode down on a bus, we all got a chance to play, work with a technician, hear all these great jazz bands play… we went out to eat, it was just a great time.”

Both Curione and Meyer mentioned their favorite memories being the exciting opportunities provided through the jazz program and the passionate directors.

Curione added that he had his “utmost respect” for the directors as they motivated everyone in the band to do their best and “go above and beyond” than what they would normally do.

“I think they are really fun to be around… and Mr. Frederick has been doing it for years, so he knows exactly what he is doing,” Curione said.

In conclusion, the jazz band has proven itself to be a great experience for students and aspiring musicians.

“Jazz is like a big family. Everyone’s really supportive of one another, always cheering for solos and such and it was just a really great bonding experience for all of us,” Meyer said.

Both interviewees plan on continuing their jazz careers into college as they have been provided with a great, fundamental basis through the Geneva jazz program.