Dragons, homework and naptime, oh my!

Each year after jazz band’s district music performance assessment, the class becomes a hub for studying, chatting with friends and a teenage favorite: sleeping. However, these activities are not the musician’s only options.

“I love the time after MPA,” sophomore Daniel Tenbusch said. “We practice every now and then, but this is the time of the year that we get to choose our songs. We pick out the favorites that people love to hear and that we love to play. Most of the time, though, I just hang out with my friends and talk.”

Band teacher Carol Allen also looks forward to this time off of practicing.

“We are so stressed leading up to MPAs, especially because we have a bunch of people practicing for their Solo and Ensemble pieces as well,” Allen said. “After MPAs, we relax and only really practice the week before a gig, and usually we just run through a few songs and then have the rest of the period off. The kids have fun and keep themselves under control, and I have another period to plan and to focus on some of my other classes.”

Some of the activities the musicians participate in do nothing but reinforce the reputation West Shore has as a “nerd school.” Juniors Dakota Helbig and Alex St.-Pierre Pesant spend some of their time in jazz band making characters and discussing tactics for the classic role-playing game “Dungeons and Dragons.”

“I’ve never played before, but Dakota has,” Pesant said. “He has a lot of good tips. It sounds like fun. I had fun making my character, which is a detailed process and can’t wait until we raid our first dungeon this Sunday.”

The practice isn’t always well-received by peers, but neither Dakota nor Alex pays them any attention.

“I don’t care what people say,” Pesant said. “I’ve gotten laughed at a bit because I’m interested, but those are the people who are too closed-minded to try it and just jump on the bandwagon and follow stereotypes about the game. And anyway, we talk about it most of the time in jazz band, and most of the people there actually think it’s neat that we are playing.”

Homework and textbooks are common sights in the band room in seventh period and some students gather together to study in groups.

“Some nights that I know I have bunch of homework, I pull out my stuff and do it in jazz band,” sophomore Jennifer Stone said. “I can at least get started on it. It saves me time at home. Although, it is hard to focus with all the different conversations people have.”

Jazz band is a place of freedom for the musicians enrolled in the class. Even though a lot of the activities are hard to resist, it is not uncommon to see people under tables in the practice room. In fact, junior Logan Canady has fallen asleep in class.

“Don’t judge me, I’m tired,” Canady said after he was roused from his slumber.

Despite all of the fun that students have in jazz band, they still remember that it is a serious class and know when to calm down and get to work in order to give a good show.

By Nathaniel Curtis