Seattle-area high school jazz bands taking top honors at the Essentially Ellington jazz-band competition in New York City is a tradition we’ve grown to expect. But we’re right to get excited about it every time. Keeping up the winning streak this year, Roosevelt High School’s jazz band won third place over the weekend. Another glorious award added to the collection.
As this Seattle Times story notes, jazz bands from this area have dominated the competition – taking top honors seven times! – since Western states were first allowed to compete in 1999. I”m always in awe of our success because I know the amount of hours spent practicing and the level of discipline and fortitude necessary to become a good jazz musician.
This is about more than excelling at an American art form. These young jazz musicians are building the inner strength, patience and perseverance needed for success in all aspects of life. At a time when much of the school focus is on the three R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic, it is worth remembering the important role of the arts in a well-rounded, quality education. Roosevelt band leader Scott Brown, whose school has ranked higher than any other in this area over the years, puts it best.
“You are establishing values,” Brown said of music education. “Of team work, of personal expression, having your own voice, but being willing also to listen to what others have to say … most of these kids are not going to go on to be professional musicians. But whatever career path they choose, this is going to be good for them… they develop a strong sense of self, and the ability to respond under pressure and be in front of people with poise.”