JEN Conference Wows Students

By Bob Bertke, Middle School and High School Music JEN3

The Middle School Jazz Band and the High School Jazz Combo performed at the Jazz Education Network’s annual conference last week. JEN is the biggest and most important meeting for the jazz world. Groups and musicians from the United States, South America, Asia and Europe took part in this great event. Leading figures in jazz taught classes and clinics and performed fantastic concerts over a three-day period at the Galt House. Having two groups perform at this international event is a huge honor, and it made an unforgettable experience for our young musicians, not only because of their performance, but also because they got to meet, listen to, and learn from some of the greatest musicians in the world. Below are thoughts from some of the MS and HS students who participated.

“I liked how we all worked together to create good sounds.”
Audrey Brinkmann-Piuma

“I liked how we all worked toward one common goal of making a piece of music the best it could be. Jazz has been such a great experience. It opened me up to so many new types of music.”
Natalie Stewart

“I was so nervous on the way to school, but when we arrived at JEN I became excited. It was an honor to play at JEN. I had so much fun that I would do it three more times. The concert went great! We got great advice. This was a marvelous experience.”
Noelle Dry

“JEN was amazing! The people there had one purpose – to make people happy.”
Amelia Gorman

“Right after playing, Mr. Bertke tells me the two people we just performed for have won Grammys!”
West Middendorf

“I liked that we got to walk around and meet really cool jazz musicians.”
Gabby Alvarez

“I thought JEN was really fun. The most fun I had on that trip was playing my guitar in front of people.”
Kameron Julian

“I got to see Wycliffe (Gordon) and his band. I got all of their signatures. They were amazing and it was a really good experience.”
Lucy Frederick

JEN was life-changing.  A professional environment that promoted learning and structure, yet managed to stay non-pretentious and accessible.
Jesse Lanier

The performers and clinicians, through their mastery of the art, inspire me to focus and push to become as great as they are. It’s a new dream to be invited to play an evening concert at JEN, or the equivalent in the classical world, if I choose that route. JEN has opened so many new doors to the art, and formed connections with people I wouldn’t have dreamed of meeting. Having attended the conference, I have gained a new perspective on what it means to be a musician, and how much work goes into being a great one. I hope to attend again in 2017 when the conference is held in New Orleans, to continue the process of becoming a better musician.
Jay Swan