School band program teaches responsibility and teamwork
The Lawn Avenue School jazz band traveled to the R.I. State House last Monday to perform as part of the R.I. State Council on the Arts’ concert series featuring music by R.I. school musicians. The band was one of 41 groups scheduled to perform during the month-long series.
Musical selections included traditional holiday carols, as well as tunes such as “Swingle All the Way” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”
The jazz band is directed by Karyn Kauffman, band director for the Lawn Avenue School. The band is an audition group, and also traditionally plays at the Village Christmas tree lighting in Jamestown each year, according to Kauffman.
But the jazz band isn’t the only Jamestown school band under Kauffman’s direction. She also directs bands of fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students, as well as a “pep” band.
Kauffman started as Jamestown’s music teacher in 1998. Over time, she said, her position evolved to that of band director.
“I’m so excited to work at a school that values music and isn’t cutting the program,” Kauffman said. “Band isn’t just for students that end up going into music.”
Each year, Kauffman works with the school’s fifth-grade students to help them choose an instrument they’re interested in playing. In January, the fifthgrade band students will perform in their first concert at Melrose School, Kauffman said.
“That’s what holds the children in the band program,” she said. “We highlight individual instruments and the kids get to do solos. It’s just totally them.”
Getting kids excited about music is important, Kauffman said.
“Music surrounds us everywhere we are,” she said. “It teaches different skills, like rhythm and counting. Music is really math and science.”
Being part of a band is also a great way for students to develop friendships, according to Kauffman.
“Nobody’s considered a dork,” she said. “It’s a totally cool thing.”
Kauffman said that participating in the band is also a great way for students to learn responsibility and the importance of teamwork.
“It’s just like a team in a sport,” she said. “Everybody matters. You have to hold your part.”
Last year, the seventh and eighth-grade band also played at the Great East Music Festival in Massachusetts, Kauffman said. Several students in the band program also audition for all-state band in the fall and play in the R.I. Music Educators Association’s Solo and Ensemble Festival in the spring.
The members of this year’s jazz band are Samara Ayvesian- Hancock, Colette Baker, Melissa Bershad, Holly Bobola, Lexi Brayman, Evan Chadwick, Faith Chadwick, Ryan Geib, Jamie Gillette, Sam Hollister, Emily Kallfelz, Charlie Keen, Kaela Kennedy, Caellum Kerr, Libby Lamantia, Dana Larkin, Zachary Neronha, Jay Patel, Michael Pratt, Noah Simmons, Benjamin Stewart, Jan Trousilek, Emma Vogel, Lily Wright, Anthony Zainyeh and Gabe Zelaya-Rincon.