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Middle school students get expert instruction at jazz band camp

Students applaud Pete Whitman at the conclusion of a brief performance on Tuesday. Star Gazette photo by Chad Richardson2 / 2

Hastings Middle School has created two band camps this summer for sixth, seventh and eighth graders to play jazz and pop style music. The Jazz Band camp and Pops Band camp are both directed by Katy Linne. Students are encouraged to play jazz and pop music together, while improvising and producing sounds unique to their instrument. Common instruments that students practice and experiment with at these summer band camps include saxophones, trombones, guitars, and a wide array of percussion. There are over 60 students participating at the middle school this summer, and on Tuesday, June 17, a lucky few of these students were treated to a performance and jazz lesson by two internationally-famous musicians.

Before beginning their instruction of a Peruvian-style jazz chart, Andres Prado and Pete Whitman displayed their talent for the middle school students. Prado, a jazz and classical guitarist, laid down the “groove” while Whitman’s soprano saxophone countered with the melody. As according to jazz style, their instruments spoke to each other, their pitches changing slightly but staying within the boundaries of a chord structure. The students watched with curiosity, and were excited when the artists introduced a way to learn music besides reading sheet music - listening. Whitman and Prado first played the calypso “Mary Ann,” and then encouraged the students to memorize the tune by singing. This exercise culminated in a collaboration of jazz rhythms, multiple parts and improvisation.

Andres Prado teaches at the Catholic University of Lima, Peru, and performs jazz and classical guitar internationally. Pete Whitman teaches at the McNally School of Music in St. Paul and performs both alto and soprano saxophone worldwide. These artists were in town to work together on a recording, to perform on Wednesday, June 18, at Jazz Central in Minneapolis and are featured at the upcoming Twin Cities Jazz Festival on June 26-28 in downtown St. Paul. Prado and Whitman were assisted at the middle school by Bill Golden, drummer for the Tommy Benz Band and employee of Groth Music Store, and director Katy Linne. The Hastings Band Boosters sponsored the event.

Lydia Birt
Lydia Birt is the Hastings Star Gazette's summer intern. She is a 2014 graduate of Hastings High School and plans to study journalism at the University of Missouri this fall. She is part of the Pohlad internship program through the Minnesota Newspaper Association.
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