From ABW VP Michael Ost – Jazz Band Update

Hi band geeks and families!

Currently Jazz Band, our flagship group, has been reduced to a “club” for next year. There would still be a paid leader of the group – the school is willing to put up a stipend to pay for that. But the group would not be a real class and it would not be for credit. Maestro Stewart raised serious objections to this. Without a grade there would be no accountability, and less motivation for members to attend performances and make the early morning trek to the class, which starts at 6:45am Also, if the group is not an official class it would not be eligible to compete at the CMEA jazz band competition. All the valuable feedback that we get at the CMEAs would be unavailable. And we would not be able to listen to other high school bands to hear what other programs are doing. Lastly, he feels that it sets a bad precedent with the school: if they make it a club this year, then whenever there is a need to cut, they will trot out making jazz a club again.

From the administration’s point of view (as I understand it) there are a couple barriers to jazz as a class. First, is that the new music director has been committed to two sections at Brookhaven Middle School for the 2019-2020 school year. With three band classes at Analy, that’s a full, 100% load. Adding jazz would put that person at 120% which is asking a lot. Second, the enrollment for jazz and the band program overall is down for next year. The administration is having to juggle a lot of priorities based on enrollment. If band is down, then they see it as fair for that to be a place to cut.

On the first point, we have the assurance that the new director would be willing to take on the extra 20% if it were possible. The importance of the jazz program is not lost that person.  On the second point, we are going to actively investigate who wants to be in a jazz class and what barriers there are to that. Janis is going to directly ask band members in class about this so we can figure out what jazz enrollment could be. We would like to see if there is a way to make band a “practical” art to encourage enrollment.

I have met the new principal, Shauna Ferdinandson, and two of the members of the school board, Ted Walker and Diane Landry. They are *very* supportive of the music program overall. They know the “jazz club” is a bad option and they are promising to return it to a class in the 2020-2021 school year. Ms Ferdinandson was very clear in our meeting about how hard the “club” decision was. Diane and Ted attended the spring concert and they had kids in the program. I have no doubt that we have strong support.

However, I’m not sure they fully understand all of what’s lost if the program becomes a club; the things I laid out above. Or what the barriers are to being involved in the jazz class. And it is always helpful to let them know how important the program is to you. So, we are requesting that you reach out to the principal and the board and let them know how you feel. You can either email them (addresses below) or speak up at the next board meeting on June 12 at El Molino, 6:00pm. That’s also the board meeting where the new director will be announced! Double bonus!

This isn’t the time for pitchforks, blame or anger. The administrators are having to make tough unpalatable choices. But your feelings and perspectives, politely expressed, are always welcome by administrators. And the Analy Band Wagon thinks this is a good time to speak up.

Shauna Ferdinandson
Kellie Noe –
Ted Walker –
Jeanne Fernandes –
Lori Bruhner-
Diane Landry –

/Michael “India’s Dad” Ost