Prep Jazz Band Reacts to Lockdown and Hybrid Learning


Seattle Prep Jazz band rehearses in a socially distanced format in the theater.

Sam McGee, Freelance Writer

With the new implementation of hybrid learning, many extracurricular activities at Prep are having re-adjust to in-person learning. This readjustment comes with facing the many new challenges and questions that come with in-person learning. The Prep Jazz Band is no exception to this, facing its own unique challenges and questions that have come with hybrid learning.

Since rehearsing and live performance are no longer an option, the band has had to change its focus from practicing and performing live pieces to learning things easier to teach in a virtual environment. Learning about music theory, jazz history and composition has become a major part of the jazz band experience during quarantine.

Jack Shoemaker ’22, who has played in the Band for two years said, “Musicians rely on being together, in the same room, to create jazz. Jazz is a collectively improvised music and to create jazz music while not occupying the same space is really hard.”  According to him, virtual learning in the Jazz Band consisted of “writing our own pieces, studying music theory, and studying jazz history”. He went on to say that “The program did its best to cope with not being able to play music together”.

 After some initial struggles, the jazz band finally began to hit its stride in regard to how it would function in a fully remote setting, but just as that occurred, the implementation of hybrid learning came to fruition, bringing with it many benefits but also many challenges and questions as to how the Jazz Band should proceed.

Since the introduction of hybrid learning, in-person rehearsals have become a feature of the jazz band once more. According to Ms. Bost, the head of the Jazz Band, the Jazz Band works on a “One week on, one week off schedule”, where there is one week of in-person rehearsals and then one week of composition work. She described the in-person rehearsals as “chaotic at times”, but that “it’s working out quite well given the circumstances.” She credits this in large part its due to the willingness of her students. She said, “I’m proud of my students, they all roll with the punches which helps me roll with the punches”.

Students seem to agree with her sentiment regarding the rehearsals, with Joaquin Galindo ’22 saying it “makes something possible that simply isn’t possible virtually”.

However, questions around curriculum have also arisen with the implementation of hybrid learning. Since its implementation, Ms. Bost has had ideas surrounding making specific parts of the subjects initially designed to only be taught during remote learning a permanent addition to the Jazz Band’s curriculum when we return to full, in-person classes.

“We lost things when we transitioned from ‘normalcy’ to quarantine but transitioning back to normal also means we may lose things created during quarantine as well”, she continued, “Things such as music theory and composition might be some of what’s lost.”

While she made no definitive statements on the future, going forward she “hopes to keep a focus on music theory and composition, perhaps even in its own class.”

Though hybrid may bring with it new challenges and questions for the Prep Jazz Band, it seems like, as Jack put it, “hybrid has allowed the Prep Jazz Program to start the second semester on a high note for both students and staff.”