HARLINGEN — There’s always something new in the world of jazz.
That’s how Saul Velez seemed to look at his performance as a jazz trombonist, and how he managed to perform so well at recent auditions for two top bands.
“When you do this music, you learn a lot of things. It’s all a learning experience,” said Saul, 17, a senior at Harlingen High School South.
Saul is one of 20 jazz students from throughout Region 28 — Donna to Brownsville — who have qualified to audition for one of two TMEA Texas All-State Jazz Bands. Ten students from Harlingen High School also qualified, which means more than half of those auditioning came from Harlingen.
Those 11 students turned in their recordings for the audition Oct. 10.
“They are very dedicated students and very committed to improving their skills,” said Maria Coronado, band director for Harlingen High School.
“They have great leadership and guidance from their lesson teachers,” Coronado said.
The 11 students qualified for the audition at the TMEA Region 28 Jazz Auditions at Harlingen High School on Sept. 22. They were part of a group of 17 Harlingen students who qualified for two Region Jazz Bands.
“They are the ones that prepare the music with the least amount of flaws,” Coronado said. “They have a stronger understanding of that style, how you play it.”
Students spoke often about how much effort they put into their performance.
“I put a lot of hours into my work,” said Sean Wood, a junior trumpet player at Harlingen High School who just sent in his recording.
“We used three different pieces that I think show what we can do,” said Sean, 17.
The music gave winners plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their expertise. That opportunity is what made the difference, said Diego Johnson, junior alto sax player at Harlingen High School.
“I think what made the difference is our sense of style and technique and fine technique,” said Diego, 16. “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to try out.”
Michael Maldonado, 17, expressed similar sentiments.
“It’s the hours we put into the craft, the technique,” said Michael, a senior drum player at HHS.
Saul has spent long hours perfecting his skill.
“It was definitely a lot of work, all the way through, listening to different jazz musicians on YouTube,” he said. “I’m always learning different things I didn’t know before.”
His band director Shane Shinsato commended him and the other students.
“I am of course beaming with pride for the success of our students,” Shinsato said. “I’m also very happy with their teachers and the level of instruction.”
WHAT: Texas Music Educators Association Region 28 Jazz Auditions
WHEN: Sept. 22
WHERE: Harlingen High School
WHY: To qualify to perform in two Region Jazz Bands
Of those who qualified, some were also allowed to audition for the TMEA All-State Jazz Bands.
WINNERS FROM HARLINGEN HIGH SCHOOL
Diego Johnson, 1st chair Alto Sax
Ariel Gonzales. 2nd chair
Jacob Garza-1st chair Tenor Sax
Ben Jaso (Cano Academy)-2nd chair Tenor Sax
Damasio Valadez-1st chair Bari-Sax
Sean Wood-3rd chair Trumpet
Matthew Chavez-3rd chair Trombone
Jacob Villarreal-4th chair Trombone
Jacob Garcia-8th chair Trombone
Jacob P. Garza-2nd chair Bass Trombone
Bianca Lopez-1st chair Guitar
Joshua Hueso- Morales-1st chair Piano
Michael Maldonado- 4th chair Drums
WINNERS FROM HARLINGEN HIGH SCHOOL SOUTH
Ethan Gonzalez -10, Alto Sax
Luis Alicea-12, Tenor Trombone
Armando Cavada-11, Piano
Saul Velez-12, Tenor Trombone
Alternate Alto Sax-Cristian Olvera-12
Alternate Tenor Trombone-Daniel Hernandez-9