Both the Bicknell stage and Pittsburg’s Memorial Auditorium were hosts to the sounds of jazz this past weekend.
The PSU Jazz Fest took place Friday, March 1. at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts and Pittsburg Memorial Auditorium and Convention Center. The Jazz Fest was in its 45th iteration and was host to over 1,500 participants from high schools and middle schools in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Jazz industry professionals and visiting professors judged jazz ensembles and PSU students assisted in registration, guiding teachers and high school students, and recording ratings received by the ensembles.
“If you’re a music or education student, you get to see a lot of tips on how to run a band,” said Cooper Schmiedeler, senior in music. “You get to see a lot of logistical and musical stuff.”
Schmiedeler plays bass trombone in the Pitt State Jazz One jazz ensemble, as well as playing tuba in the wind ensemble. He also said that he finds the work experience “helpful” in his career.
“Being a music student, it definitely helps when I’m helping the directors and students, having been in their shoes before,” Schmiedeler said. “It definitely helps knowing our buildings better (than directors and students) … It’s nice when I get to work with a director that I’ve worked with before, because they’ll know me and it’s nicer usually.”
Schmiedeler was not the only student in the Pitt State jazz ensemble that helped directors and students throughout the day. Daulton Edwards, junior in music education, assisted as part of his job at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.
“It was really nice,” Edwards said. “I’ve always said that directors can be a little mean on contest day, but I’m lucky I didn’t really have to deal with that too much.”
Edwards, as well as being one of the drummers for Jazz One under the direction of Robert Kehle, participates in the PSU Jazz Combo, which is run by students. The Jazz Combo is a smaller group consisting of freshmen; Tyler Fries on trumpet, Garrett Manasco on trombone and Caden Forbes on guitar, sophomore Joe Pauli on bass, and juniors Edwards and Bryan Amor on piano.
“One of my favorite moments from the concert is we actually started the jazz combo early,” Edwards said. “We had to fill some time, so we just started (improvising) on a B-flat blues scale… we let some solos go a little bit longer, because we started five, 10 minutes early and we still needed to fill up that space.”
Edwards also said that working during the Jazz Fest was a “great experience.”
“I started out with a smaller middle school,” Edwards said. “I felt like (the director) was very humbled by the whole experience… and then, their high school blew the roof the place.”
Edwards encouraged students who say they like music to “give jazz a chance.”
“When people say they have a love for music, they have a love for what their idea of music is,” Edwards said. “I always hear, ‘Well, that’s not what I’m into. That’s not what I like…’ I think that if more students went out and saw what other students their age are doing, they might have a different appreciation for the arts on campus.”