Amid some intense winter weather, even the music was cool at Central Michigan University.
High school and middle school jazz musicians from all across the state flooded campus this month as part of the 46th annual Jazz Weekend.
An exciting education
Each year, Jazz Weekend brings together over 1,200 high school and junior high students, CMU alumni, and current CMU students.
Students perform for ratings and awards, receive critiques from top clinicians and adjudicators, and enjoy performances from CMU jazz bands and guest artists.
CMU music student Jeremy Wisler, from Midland, Michigan, attended Jazz Weekend as a high school student in 2012, 2014 and 2015.
"I looked forward to the rehearsals leading up to Jazz Weekend," Wisler said. "I always felt a great deal of fulfillment and pride when our band would put on a great performance at CMU after weeks of hard work."
Wisler now participates in Jazz Weekend as a member of Central's Jazz Lab 1, which performs for the visiting students.
"When Jazz Weekend takes place, there's an electric excitement that fills the air on campus," said Wisler. "The opportunity to take musical risks stirs up nerves and optimism in the minds of the visiting students."
Weathering the weather
Despite inclement weather, schools performed Feb. 1 for Jazz Weekend.
The Eisenhower High School jazz band, directed by CMU alum Chris Traskal, drove 137 miles from Shelby Township, Michigan, to attend.
Their performance earned them three awards.
The Eisenhower High School jazz band blue combo performs at Jazz Weekend.
The Eisenhower jazz band white combo receives advice on how to improve their performance.
Returning to CMU
Jazz Weekend also is an opportunity for alumni band directors to reconnect with their alma mater.
Traskal cites his attendance at Jazz Weekend in high school as a large reason why he decided to study at CMU. It was the positive learning experience, competitive nature and celebratory atmosphere of Jazz Weekend that got Traskal fired up.
Now in his 18th
year as a band director, Traskal continues to attend Jazz Weekend. Even now, he still learns something new every year.