No sheet music, no bass, no problem

Krista Kroiss, Beat Editor

Many musicians that play traditional music will stare at you blankly if you take away their sheet music. A member of Jazz Band, however, will play on just fine without its guidance.
“Something that makes jazz really special is that it’s a tradition that’s largely based a lot on improvisation,” Jazz Band teacher Jared Tanner said. “This is something that’s not really done in a lot of traditional music classes taught in schools.”
Improvisation is when a musician adds his or her style into a piece by creating solos within a certain key on-the-spot. Practicing improvision teaches students to play by ear, which is an important skill when playing music in college and professionally.
Because most traditional music schools teach based on sheet music, music students are trained to follow the sheet music and have little opportunity to add their own creativity to the song.
“There’s a lot of room for students to be creative and make their own musical choices, partially because of the nature of the music and partially because the class is small,” Tanner said. “The ensemble typically has 25 people at the most and right now there’s only 18.”
Besides an unusually small class size, this year’s jazz band also has no bass player. Although this may seem like an obstacle, Jazz Band is adapting well to the missing role.
“At Liberty, we haven’t, in my time, ever had a perfectly filled jazz band,” Tanner said. “We don’t have a bass player this year, so some of the piano players are rotating and playing bass parts.”
In addition to the extra piano player, Jazz Band is also filling the role of the bass with a tuba player. Having a tuba player is useful for playing New Orleans style music, where it is common for the tuba to play bass parts.
Overall, the Jazz Band musicians are looking to improve their general musicianship and enjoy the music they play.
“I want my jazz students to continually become more complete musicians,” Tanner said, “where they can arrange, figure it out by ear, sight read, and play in a way that’s really enjoyable without anybody else.”
With these goals in mind, Jazz Band is a place that challenges musicians in an enjoyable environment.
“It has such a great atmosphere and everyone in it is so passionate about music,” senior Alex Hartford said.“For someone who is passionate about music, it is exactly what I need.”