Riverside High School Jazz Band dazzles at Music in the Parks
Earlier this month, the Riverside High School Jazz Band won second place in the high school jazz band category at the annual Music in the Parks competition in Coeur d’Alene, a feat all the more remarkable as the group did not had only been playing for a month. .
The Riverside group faced off against high school groups in Idaho who had played together all year, group principal Valerie Rux said. The Music in the Park competition is not a competition the school normally participates in, she said.
“It’s a festival that they’ve been doing for years and years and years, but we’ve only been there once before,” Rux said. “Because there was so little for us to do and we were together, we thought about going to this festival in Idaho.”
Everyone was happy with the result. “It’s a great group of kids,” she said of the 25 students. “They were all so excited. It was so nice to be able to play.
The performance marked the first time the jazz group had competed since October 2019. Their spring concerts in 2020 were canceled and when school started last fall, many restrictions were in place.
“We started the year once a week,” she said. “They divided the jazz group into four groups.”
Each of these four groups met separately once a week, but they could not always play their instruments.
“There were times when we weren’t playing at all because of the protocols,” she said.
It was up to each member of the group to train independently at home. Rux said she would offer one-on-one instruction between classes or after school if anyone needed it.
In January, the rules were relaxed a bit. Half the group could get together at the same time and perform if they wore split masks that allowed the mouthpiece to enter their mouths and used bell lids to cover their instruments, Rux said.
Rux said it worked because none of the band members are new to it.
“They are a really talented group,” she said.
Still, it can be problematic to play alone for months and then suddenly switch to a band.
“The kids were working on something but wouldn’t know how it fits,” she said. “When we got together, it was just about putting the pieces together. It wasn’t like starting from scratch.
The group was able to come together as a whole and start putting these parts together early in the fourth quarter, Rux said. This gave them a month of practice before the Coeur d’Alene competition in early May.
Rux is full of praise for what the group has been able to accomplish this year.
“I am impressed with them,” she said. “I think they are amazing, wonderful, talented kids.”
With many restrictions still in place, there will be no public spring concerts. The jazz group will participate in two school concerts, where half of the students will gather outside to hear the school choir and orchestras.
“It will be good to have more performances under their belt,” she said.
Rux said she is trying to determine if the concerts can be streamed live on Facebook because the public cannot attend.
“Because of all the rules, we can’t even let the parents come,” she said.