Claremore High School students Dylan Ward and Hayden Rhoades were recently accepted as members of the All State Jazz Band.
Ward, a junior, was chosen for second chair trombone out of almost 100 students across the state competing for five seats.
Rhoades, a sophomore, was chosen for second chair alto saxophone out of 80 students competing for two seats.
“The All State Jazz Band is really, super tough to get into,” said Head Band Director David Mudd. “From what I understand it’s been about a decade since we have had anybody from Claremore make the All State Jazz Band.”
Ward joined the Jazz Band in junior high with the encouragement of a former band director. He started on the drums and moved to trombone.
“I messed around with percussion instruments like guitar, but then I got into sixth grade and started moving toward wind instruments,” Ward said. “I had a friend in Broken Arrow who played trombone, and that inspired me to play it because I thought it looked cool.”
“I heard the Jazz Band play at my elementary school in third grade, and from then on I knew it was something I wanted to do,” Rhoades said. “As soon as I got the opportunity my eighth grade year, I played.”
Both young men said they preferred Jazz Band to other bands and musical genres due to the variety of the music, the freedom of expression and the fun.
“There are more career opportunities in Jazz as well,” Ward said. “You can’t go out with a symphony every day and play a gig.”
Jazz is underappreciated by the general public, Ward said.
“I’d like for people to further their musical knowledge and support bands and music,” he said.
Rhoades added, “I wouldn’t be as interested in music theory as I am without jazz.”
After high school, Ward plans to study music, preferably with an emphasis on jazz, and then play in a philharmonic.
Ward said he still has room for growth in his comprehension speed when learning new music and in living up to the professional standards of musicianship.
Rhoades said he also wants to continue with music after high school, though his plans are less concrete.
“There is always room for improvement,” Rhoades said, about his on personal growth in music.
Ward said that being included in the All State Jazz Band is important because “it’s a very good place to get your name out there for colleges that want advanced players. When you make an All State band colleges will notice that and contact you.”
“It’s an opportunity to play with kids all over the state that know what they are doing and are very good at what they do,” Rhoades said.
Both boys also qualified for All State Concert Band, so they had to choose between the two ensembles.
Mudd said “for both of these guys, their strength is that they are pretty fearless. When it comes to improvisation, they’ll just jump in. If it sounds wrong, they’ll fix it. They are fearless and they have a good musical intuition.”
“They don’t let their failures get them down, but they look at them as an opportunity for growth,” Mudd said, full of pride for his students