Christian Excels in Willis Junior High Jazz Band

One of Christian’s favorite activities at Willis Junior High is Jazz Band. The Band meets Zero Hour three times a week, but he really enjoys the time. He has been the pianist for two years. Last year, the Jazz Band participated in the Jazz Educators Network festival in Louisville, KY. They were the only junior high jazz band invited to attend. This year, they will be participating at a Jazz Festival in Flagstaff in February.

Q. You are a piano player for Willis’ Jazz band. How long have you been involved in this?

A. I started playing piano when I was in the first grade. I started percussion in the fifth grade, and I continue to play percussion in Willis’ Symphonic Band. I joined Willis’ Jazz Band as the only pianist in seventh grade, and I have continued to grow in my musicality this year.

Q. Tell us about your participation in Jazz Educators Network festival in Louisville, KY?

A. It was an honor to be the pianist of the only junior high jazz band participating at an International Jazz Festival in January 2016. We practiced during Zero Hour every school day for the entire first semester. We prepared a show of eight to nine songs lasting 50 minutes. The whole experience was great for all the members of the band. We grew as musicians and friends. We got the opportunity to listen to a variety of jazz by all levels, including high schools, colleges, and professionals.

Q. You are also going to Flagstaff in February to perform. What are you doing to prepare for this?

A. The Willis JH Jazz Band will be playing at the NAU Jazz Festival on February 23-24, 2017. We are preparing in a similar way as we prepared for the Louisville festival last year. We practice during Zero Hour three days a week, plus an extra morning practice for instrumental sections. We expect to have a set of about 30 minutes of jazz music.

Q. You are also a straight A student in the gifted program how do you do it all?

A. I spend a lot of time managing and prioritizing my projects. The Gifted Program utilizes a variety of online resources, such as Google Classroom and Noodletools. These resources allow me to obtain an overview of my work, communicate with my peers on homework problems and ideas for solutions, and upload my completed assignments directly to the teacher. Also, these tools allow me to conduct nearly all of my research online and keep track of my cited sources. These are big timesavers and allow me to dig deeper into the material.

Q. When you do have spare time what do you like to do?

A. I enjoy playing football, going to movies, playing video games, playing my keyboard and drum set at home, writing solos for the keyboard, and hanging out with my friends. I also go to ASU football games with my family.

Christian is an eighth grader at Willis Junior High School.

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