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Wednesday, 26 June 2013 15:10

SCCHS jazz students put on an impressive show at the Lyric on June 12

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Students involved with the jazz music program at Swift Current Comprehensive High School recently showcased their talents to the rest of the community with a concert held at the Lyric Theatre on June 12. The evening featured performances by 8 o'clock Jazz, 9 o'clock Jazz, and Vocal Jazz, as well as another vocal combo and two instrumental combos who provided some background music before the show.


“We had about 60 students take part, in total,” explained SCCHS Director of Instrumental Music, Aaron Thingelstad. “It's an important part of our music curriculum, getting the kids out and giving them a chance to perform. It really is such an important part of being a musician, so it's kind of like our unit exams for these kids, really.”


The music program at SCCHS continues to a popular one with students, which Thingelstad attributes to the safe, welcoming environment and flexibility of the program. Many students who are involved with music are also active on sports teams, in drama, or other extra-curricular activities at the school.


“Kids feel a real sense of family, and since we work together for up to four years, I really get a chance to develop relationships with these students over time, which I think helps that culture to grow even further,” Thingelstad noted. “We also have great communication between our middle years and high school band programs, so I think that really helps promote students into the music program. It's important to us that they can get involved in other things, but still be a part of the music program here.”


The jazz nights that the students put on have grown over the years, especially thanks to the Rotary Club sponsoring the annual Cypress retreat. The students are able to spend a weekend working with clinicians on the music that they showcase at their jazz concerts, which really steps up the level of their performance.


“Any time we get up in front of people to play, it puts pressure on the students to perform to the best of their ability,” explained Thingelstad. “It's more of a reality for them of what it's like performing in the real world, and we often get some of our best performances in those live situations. I really think it helps them rise to the occasion.”


The atmosphere provided by the Lyric Theatre adds even more authenticity to their concert. Thingelstad and Choral Director Brianna Dennehy wanted to give students more of a New York style, jazz-club feel for their performance. A smaller venue, patrons sitting at tables, and a concession at the back gives students the chance to experience what it might be like, playing at a club.


“We are so lucky to have the Lyric as a venue that we can use,” Thingelstad said. “I think the students really love it, since a lot of our students are actively involved with both Youth Open Stage and regular Open Stage there, it's like a second home to them. It's a great atmosphere with great acoustics, and it gives the community a bit of a chance to see that we have young kids making cool music right here in the city.”

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Jessi Gowan