Swinging with the Jazz Band

An inside look at JD’s Jazz ensemble


Madison Hanna

JD's Jazz Band practicing before school. They practice at 7 AM on B and D days.

Louis Armstrong. Miles Davis. Duke Ellington. Just like these famous jazz musicians, students in JD’s jazz band are bringing soul to music.

Madison Hanna
Mr. VanWagoner conducting the band. He is a new teacher at JD.


Mr. John VanWagoner is the director of the jazz band as well as a new teacher at JD. VanWagoner explained that jazz music is often more complex rhythmically than other genres of music. “It’s most rewarding hearing the students play it [the music] so wonderfully,” said VanWagoner. “My favorite part of teaching jazz band is hearing the students learn the music.” VanWagoner finished.

Madison Hanna
Joshua Canul playing a drum. He enjoys playing percussion instruments to accompany the band.



Sophomore Joshua Canul plays percussion instruments for the jazz band. “Jazz music is super nice and calming to listen to and play in the mornings,” Canul said. Canul’s favorite song the band has played so far this year is called ‘Birdland.’ “It’s super upbeat and a lot of fun to play,” Canul said. The band performed this piece at the JD music program’s Halloween concert on October 28.

If you’re early enough, you might hear the jazz band practicing while walking down the senior hall. They practice at 7 AM on B and D days. Although the rehearsals are early in the morning, Canul believes they are worth it. “Being part of this ensemble is…a sort of mental warm-up before you dive into the school day.” Canul finished.

Madison Hanna
Prayerie Trussell playing the flute for the song “Let It Snow”.

Senior and musician Prayerie Trussell joined the jazz band this year. She plays the flute and enjoys playing music with her friends most in the jazz band. “I get to see my friends and play fun, upbeat songs with them,” Trussell said. As a violinist, her favorite part of the band is playing a “different style of music.”

As JD’s music program prepares for its Christmas program, Lux Dei, the jazz band is working on many Christmas songs right now. ‘Let it Snow’ is Trussell’s favorite song the jazz band is playing right now. “I love the original song and hearing the band play it is really cool.” she finished.

These students display a love for jazz music not only through their dedication but also through the expressive way they play the music. They will be performing at the Spiritus Donorum dinner in December.

Madison Hanna