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Apr 1, 2010 8:47 PM by Monica Quintero

Santa Maria jazz band winning top honors

Just four years ago, Santa Maria High School had no band program. But now, they're receiving some top honors. In 2007, the band program was revived at the high school. It now has three different bands which include two jazz bands and a concert band. What's interesting is that the jazz program didn't start until last year and it has already won a prestigious award.

Jazz music wasn't something many of these students were use to. Virginia Mendez, jazz band member, said, "When we started none of us had any experience in jazz before." Another jazz band member, Luke Rodriguez, said, "It was a completely different thing." Wendy White, jazz band member, said, "It's my favorite style of music now."

This style of music seems to have hit a high note. The jazz band placed first in the intermediate division at the 27th Annual Cuesta College Jazz Festival back in February. Mendez said, "We got first place which was so awesome." It also won a special citation for Outstanding Musicianship for the trombone section. "I think we've done something huge from starting off with nothing and growing into something especially with the budget cuts," said Rodriguez.

The band has grown here at the high school. Back in 2007, there were only about 20 students in the band program. There's now around 55 students and it's only expected to get even bigger and better in the future. Eduardo Solis, jazz band member, said, "You get to express yourself." It's their way of expressing themselves.

But at the same time, they're making a name for themselves. Rodriguez said, "I honestly, think we are one of the biggest success stories here in Santa Maria." Here's something else impressive about that jazz band. In its first year, it placed second in the novice category which is the beginner level. Now, taking a step into the intermediate category was a big jump. Most bands usually don't take that step this soon.


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