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Proud Moments – Central High School’s Jazz Band

Written by Lauren Boisvert, Community Communications Director

We met with Central High School’s Jazz Band on Wheel Wednesday! Wheel Wednesday is different from the student’s traditionally daily improvisation as they sit in a circle moving around the circle clockwise to allow for each student to improvise. Central High School Band Director and Manchester School District’s Fine Arts Director, Ed Doyle directs the band but the students are skilled and trained to move around the circle on their own without direction. This skill is remarkable to see in a high school band as many professional musicians can not improvise as these students were able to. 

Video of Wheel Wednesday Improv: https://www.tiktok.com/@mhtproud/video/7354044428627053866 

About being a part of the Jazz Band, Central High School Senior, Colleen says, “The best part is that it is smaller than Concert Band, we work off each other so much”. Watching their performance, the group truly feeds off each other. Central High School Sophomore, Nick says, “Jazz allows for more opportunity to be creative and try new things”. About the group, Ed Doyle says, “This is a real supportive group…they can make mistakes but expand and recover from them”. Expanding on this, Central High School Senior, Patrick says, “I started on piano but moved to guitar for Jazz Band, it’s been a really good opportunity to fool around and experiment with this new instrument”. 

The Jazz Band has a whole has 19 students and there are three combos within this group. On March 16, 2024, the UNH Clark Terry Jazz Festival took place in Durham, NH. This festival featured over 30 schools from all across New England. The whole Jazz Band performed and later that day a combo of seven students performed. The combo performed three songs. Agua de Beber, Black Nile, and Cienfuegos.

They received an Outstanding Performance Plaque as well as four individual awards for piano, drums, bass, and trombone. About the judgment, Central High School Junior, Tommy says, “The judges worked with us, they gave us ideas of ‘how about this?’” and Colleen added, “It was more than just critiques but suggestions”. About their recognition, students talked about the pride that they have in the music program as many other schools performing at this event typically have more funding. When asked what they were most proud of, the students agreed that they were proud of all three pieces equally.

See the Students with the award here: 

See a video of students performing Agua de Beber here: https://www.tiktok.com/@mhtproud/video/7354047771701185835

We were able to chat with the students in depth about their inspiration, they listed over 40 Jazz musicians from Duke Ellington to Al Green to Ella Fitzgerald to J.J. Johnson. Their music education here in Manchester is rich both with the skill to play their instrument and with other musicians but also their exploration of music history and music theory. 

Congratulations to the group on their accomplishments! 

Ed Doyle, Central High School Band Director and Manchester School District Fine Arts Director 

Patrick DeFelice, Guitar, 12

Oliver Jaquez, Alto Saxophone, 12

Serenity Newton, Bass, 12

Colleen Stankiewicz, Flute, 12

Tommy Martineau, Trombone, 11

Jonah Therrien, Drums, 10

Nicholas Valiton, Piano, 10

Mark your calendars to hear this group as well as other jazz programs in the Manchester School District for April 30, 2024 at 6 pm at the REX Theatre. 

Information here: A Night of Jazz at the Rex Theatre

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The power of building and tending to community partnerships is a multiplier, expanding our collective knowledge, expertise, experience, capacity, resources, opportunity, and commitment to our common goal of excellence and equity for all learners. The old saying that, “Two heads are better than one”, certainly applies to our work, and we are so very fortunate to have many, many heads contributing to the success of our District.