The sultry sounds of the alto saxophone is what made dozens of ears perk up, while finger snaps (an artful expression of applause) filled the room during a recent performance by the Bryan Adams High School’s Jazz Ensemble on March 28.
For nearly two decades, aspiring jazz artists have gathered for the Dallas Music Educators Association Jazz Festival hosted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center campus. The DMEA Jazz Fest has cultivated many successful musicians, including many of the band directors who have come back to teach within Dallas ISD.
This year, 15 jazz bands across Dallas ISD featured their top musicians in a festival-styled venue in an effort to keep the art form alive.
“Anytime you can have a mechanism for students to showcase what they’ve worked on, that open lab, there’s nothing like it,” said Dean Hill, director of Townview’s “Big D” Marching Band.
Hill said during his tenure teaching music, he has noticed a decline in the arts. More specifically, band programs are seeing considerable decreases, which some fear could lead to the demise of marching bands as a whole.
Christian Brouton, a junior at South Oak Cliff (SOC) High School, is a third-year band member. During football season, Brouton spends most of his time marching in the band, but in the spring his focus switches to jazz. Playing jazz is where his skills are sharpened and developed more than they would by only performing in marching band.
“I prefer the jazz band because you can learn different techniques and forms on your instrument,” said Brouton, moments before the SOC Jazz Ensemble performed.
That is why the jazz fest remains relevant. Brouton, who has been apart of band since fifth-grade, can keep his interest, awareness, and opportunities at his fingertips using the annual platform to showcase his work.
“One of the things is, there are less venues to showcase their art and that’s one of the reasons why we still do this,” Hill said. “The goal is to expose these group of stdents, who are eager to continue their growth in the musical arts area, and get them to use their talents on the professional side.”
Today, the aspiring musicians are different, Hill said.
“We are having to adapt to the changing music world,” Hill said. “People don’t understand that it’s one thing to play, as some want instant success, and it doesn’t happen that way. It has to be grown and has to be cultivated.