Early morning jazz

Every Friday morning eight students gather in the entrance to play jazz to the students of FHC


Olivia Fong

The jazz group stands in the entrance and plays jazz. They all smiled as they played their instruments.

It all started in December. Eight students gathered in the entryway of FHC to set up equipment. Instruments were brought out, including baritone, tenor, and alto saxophones; trumpet; bass guitar; piano; and drums, to play music for students as they enter the school doors. They call it “The Jazz Combo.”

Austin Crudup, Joey Black, Holly Whaley, Max Venker, Ethan Stepanek, Sam Eckhoff, Conor Banden, and Jake Luebbert come to school Fridays at 6:20 a.m. to set up for their jazz performance. They have an unexplainable bond through music, and work together as a team to perform jazz pieces.

It’s not as easy as it looks, and there are challenging aspects. Junior Holly Whaley loves participating in this student-led group, but they often run into problems.

“The only time we get to practice is during seminar, and we’re already in the loud band room, so we can barely hear each other,” Whaley said.

For Junior Austin Crudup, the hardest part about this small ensemble is the problematic practice schedule.

“We only practice once a week, so we have 45 minutes to prepare three songs, so it’s kind of painful,” Crudup said.

Although there are difficult conditions, the group loves to play music every Friday morning.

“I mainly like making people happy and making their morning less stressful,” Whaley said. “It’s sort of like a mini-celebration that it’s Friday.”

Sophomore Connor Banden loves playing in the morning because he gets to add a little joy to student’s days.

“I think that students come in and think, ‘Wow, this is a great way to start off my Friday morning,’” Banden said. “You get to the end of the week and before you start this last stretch you can start the morning with music.”

Despite having the privilege of playing music for the school, these musicians had to work hard at perfecting their tone and quality of sound to be where they are now. They all started in middle school and strived to be be good performers.

“My favorite part about the saxophone is just having cool parts in jazz music,” Crudup said. “Concert sucked, but in jazz, I have something fun to play.”

Banden remembers learning how to play piano and realizing how fun it was, especially to be a pianist for marching band in high school.

“My dad is very musical, and we used to have this old piano. Then I started taking lessons and in middle school I just did percussion,” Banden said. “Then marching band came around.”

This small ensemble is 99 percent student run, and the band teachers, Mr. Messerli and Mr. Griffin, are rarely involved. The students make the decisions and work together as a group.

“Griffin doesn’t really do anything, he just tells Dr. Arnel that we’re going to be playing Friday morning. Besides that, it’s all student-led,” Crudup said.

In the eyes of the group, Whaley was a great addition, however, at first Mr. Griffin was not too keen on the idea.  

“Mr. Griffin sort of gave Joey the stink eye for wanting to add another saxophone,” Whaley said. “But besides that, he’ll print off parts for us, but it’s basically student-run.”