Walking through the halls of Fowler Middle School on an afternoon when the jazz ensemble is practicing, a visitor might expect to round a corner and find a jazz club had been installed in the school.
The jazz ensemble’s sound is mature, cutting edge and resonates from the students’ instruments with style and flair, in spite of their braces, slouchy hoodies and sneakers.
The all-volunteer group of students is the first-ever middle-school jazz ensemble selected to perform at the annual Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Clinic/Convention, a significant and prestigious honor. This is the first year middle-school jazz ensembles were even eligible.
Students will perform at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. The TMEA convention is the largest gathering of its kind of music educators in the nation.
The jazz ensemble, which typically meets twice a week before and after school to practice, has been busy preparing for their big show at TMEA. The students introduced their pieces for TMEA at a winter concert in December and Principal Donnie Wiseman invited them to perform at faculty and staff meetings during the month of January. The ensemble also performed at Stonebriar Centre mall in January.
This mini-performance season has allowed students to further hone their talents and fine-tune their presentation. The ensemble will also perform a “farewell concert” at Fowler Middle School on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. prior to traveling to San Antonio. The concert is free and open to the public.
“We are incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to represent Fowler Middle School and Frisco ISD in showcasing the hard work and musicality of our jazz students,” said Band Director Matthew Hedrick. “In preparation for this performance, the students have dedicated much time and effort to the performance of various jazz styles, improvisation and ensemble techniques. As we have delved into this process, students inspired us daily with their collaboration, dedication, accountability and perseverance.”
Performing at TMEA and meeting with other instructors and musicians is important on many levels. It’s not just another concert for the students.
“This is a significant learning experience for these promising musicians,” Hedrick said. “Being immersed in a musically- and creatively-rich environment will certainly broaden their horizons and afford them a glimpse at the tremendous scope and value that music education and jazz has in our society.”
Frisco ISD will also send dozens of All-State band, choir and orchestra students to perform with ensembles at the convention Feb. 14-17.