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FMS Jazz Concert

Members of Farragut Middle School’s Jazz Program will play a Christmas concert beginning at 8 a.m., Friday, Dec. 17, at the Farragut Middle School Studio Theater.

The Jazz Program, led by FMS band director Chris McTavish, consists of members of FMS concert band as well as non-band members.

“Some of these kids are in regular band, and they love playing their instruments, but there are also some guitar players who can’t play in regular band,” McTavish said.

McTavish said the program offers an opportunity for all FMS musicians to play.

“There are a lot of kids playing guitar now because of video games like guitar hero and rock band and there is no place for these kids to play in school. But now that there is a jazz band they can play … and jazz band is more than just playing swing or the blues, there is a little bit of rock and roll in there too,” McTavish said.

“Same thing with drummers, when you play in a regular concert band there is not a whole lot of drum set going on, it’s more snare drum and bass drum. But in jazz band these kids can kind of jam out on a drum set like they want to in their garage bands, except it is a little more organized,” he added.

There are 53 students in the Jazz Program.

McTavish, who has taught band at FMS for six years, helped form the Jazz program.

“The person who was here before me started it, but it didn’t really catch on that well, but we have been doing it for the last six years now,” he said.

McTavish said the students take the program seriously.

“They come in before school to rehearse,” he said.

The program consists of two full jazz bands and several combo bands.

“We work on improvisation and trying to give these kids basic improv and blues skills,” McTavish said.

The Christmas concert will consist of a 21-person jazz band and also will feature a small combo band as well as a couple of solo performances.

“It will be mostly swing-type music, like ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,’ with a jazz feel to it, and a lot of traditional Christmas music … chart stuff,” McTavish said.

Some of the instruments featured in the concert will include flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, drums, piano, electric guitar and bass guitar.

“Some of these are instruments you just do not get to hear in a regular concert band,” McTavish said.

Because the group is not a concert band they do not get to perform at band functions, so McTavish sets up other venues for them.

“We played a party for [Knoxville] Mayor Bill Haslam once; we go to senior citizen communities and play for them. Once we took them to Nashville to play at a National Middle School meeting,” McTavish said.

The Christmas concert will be played in the morning in an effort to combat schedule conflicts during the holiday season.

“It’s a little unusual to do a concert in the morning rather than the evening, but if we did it in the evening there would be no administration or faculty at the concert and we sort of do this for the faculty as a sort of ‘Merry Christmas to you,’” McTavish said.

“These kids have so much on their plates during the holidays. We try to get the parents before work instead of at dinnertime,” he added.

For more information on having the FMS Jazz Band perform at events, call McTavish at FMS at 865-966-9756.


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