Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 14, 2019
Surry’s fledgling jazz band headed to state festival
Surry music teacher Joe Wainer leads members of the student jazz band as they rehearse for the district festival March 5.
by Anne Berleant
“And a-one, a-two, a-one-two-three-four!”
The Surry Elementary School’s first competing jazz band lifted their horns, drum sticks, guitars and microphones as the musicians broke into Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” It was the band’s last rehearsal before the Middle School District VI Jazz Festival the next day, March 6, in Bucksport.
Also on the set list: “Tenor Madness,” by jazz great Sonny Rollins, and the classic standard, “September Song.”
“Be prepared to play and have fun,” music teacher and band director Joe Wainer advised. “If we miss one note, we keep going. This is jazz, it’s the feel, the presentation.”
In the 30-minute rehearsal, the band worked on their timing and transitioning out of a solo into the full band. Wainer lifted up a horn to join in, mixing in jokes and advice.
“I want you to think on your feet,” he said. “Say a chandelier falls to the ground and impales me. Keep playing!”
The band boasts 15 middle school drummers, horn players, vocalists and guitarists.
“I’m excited,” said eighth grade drummer Tony Esposito. “We’ve had a lot of practices.”
All the rehearsals and Wainer’s advice paid off at the district competition.
“The jazz band rocked the auditorium, and are going to states.” Principal Fred Cole reported.
Wainer, in his second year teaching music two days a week at the school, said he teaches to the group and the individual student.
“You make sure that no matter what, they feel as successful as anyone else in the band, have fun, and have something positive to set their sights even higher,” he said.
“It’s fun because we’re all playing together,” eighth-grade clarinet player Aliyah Washburn said. “It’s like a community aspect.”
The state middle school jazz competition will be held in Westbrook on March 23.