The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Grammy Award Winning Trumpeter Visits, Clinics Creek Jazz Bands

Peter Philpott
Professional Trumpeter Bijon Watson fist-bumps Jazz B tenor saxophonist Gavin Kim. Watson helped Kim work on his solo, growing his confidence and encouraging to look away from his music and truly improvise. “As a young player that is learning jazz, it is important for them to treat jazz as learning a language,” Watson said. “Improvisation is not just ‘making things up,’ there are several rules, parameters, and approaches that one can only learn through repetition, discipline, and humility.”

Professional Jazz Trumpeter Bijon Watson is a Grammy winner and a musician on numerous Hollywood soundtracks, including Despicable Me and La La Land. He’s also performed with artists including Queen Latifa, Michael Bublé, and many more.

He visited Creek’s Jazz A and B bands on April 18.

Band director Tim Libby’s decades in the music performance and education industry have given him an extensive list of connections. He met Watson while performing with him in a Disneyland band in college.

During his visit, he critiqued individual musicians as well as the full bands. “I was extremely enthusiastic to come in and work with the jazz bands because I was in those students’ position myself at one time as a high school band member,” Watson said. “I am always excited to work with students that are willing to be humble and ask the right questions.”

Watson helped Jazz B trumpet sophomore Brooke Balogh by helping her be more confident and choosing the right notes on her improvised solo.

Balogh performs a solo after a critique from Watson. (Peter Philpott)

“It was just cool to listen to him talk in the language of jazz, on a whole other level,” Balogh said. “I’ve never used those notes in a solo before so he expanded my vocabulary. He definitely built my confidence a lot.”

Libby believes his clinics were instrumental in fine-tuning songs and solos. “It’s an invaluable experience to learn from somebody who’s a master of their craft,” he said. “It’s so inspiring to have somebody that’s so passionate about music…and it’s contagious.”

He has brought in teachers to help his classes before. “Anytime you get to be around somebody that’s that high level of an artist, it raises your artistry as well,” Libby said. “He’s talking about style, and he’s just getting everybody to play with a lot of energy and pay more attention to the details in the music.”While jazz can initially seem overwhelming when first stating out, there are definitely moments when the a “light bulb” moment will happen with a student as a result of their consistency and dedication to learning the language of jazz

Watson shouts instruction and encouragement to the Jazz B ensemble. “While jazz can initially seem overwhelming when first starting out, there are definitely moments when the a ‘light bulb’ moment will happen with a student as a result of their consistency and dedication to learning the language of jazz.” (Peter Philpott)

Balogh agrees that outside opinions and critiques can be very useful to young musicians.

“I think it’s really important because you get different perspectives,” she said. “Different people like to hear different things.”

Watson said that professionals will have some of the same struggles with their music as any high school student.

“It is always inspiring to be able to have an accomplished professional musician that has experienced similar struggles be able to share their process,” Watson said. “I can point to similar professional players that I met and heard growing up that inspired me early on, Doc Severinsen, Charlie Lewis, and Wynton Marsalis.”

Jazz B baritone saxophone freshman Eamon Holohan was also coached, alongside the saxophone line, with his solo. Watson taught him how to stray beyond the normal blues scale they had learned in class. “He taught us more complex, in-depth tools,” Holohan said.

Holohan noticed that Watson’s height and volume of speech made his trumpet sound more powerful, and himself a more credible source because of his confidence, especially when he was teaching about improvisation or solos.

“What he would do is…play what he was talking about as he was talking about it,” he said. “It just feels more authoritative coming from him.”

Watson remembers that he wasn’t a child prodigy; he gained his skill on the trumpet through hard work and practice. He hopes that his coaching can help them get encouraged to do the same.

“I hope that the students’ main takeaway was a phrase that I used many times while working with them: ‘consistency breeds confidence,’” he said. “That can be applied to anything in life that they wish to excel in and any goal they wish to attain.”

Watson improvises a trumpet solo for the band. “It’s cool to see like him teaching you how to be like him,” Holohan said. “There’s proof that he’s really good.” (Peter Philpott)
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About the Contributor
Peter Philpott
Peter Philpott, News Editor & Outreach Coordinator
Hey there! My name's Peter, I'm a junior, and I'm the USJ's News Editor and Outreach Coordinator. I believe that the first amendment is incredibly important, and as journalists we have the right and the duty to uphold it. I am very passionate for news reporting, from small, local issues, to major politics or systemic change topics. This is why I love political/breaking news reporting, and one day I hope to be an investigative journalist. I also enjoy artistic photography in my free time. My position as Outreach Coordinator gives me the opportunity to connect to other newspapers, businesses, and families in the community to grow our reach and get our coverage in the hands of more people. I play trumpet and mellophone and I am part of Creek's Marching Band. I'm enthusiastic to inform this school on the happenings of our community, from Capitol Hill to the quad. Also, check out my column, Peanuts and Cracker Jack, where I talk about in-depth baseball!

To contact me by email, access my portfolio, or view my photography Instagram account, click the respective buttons below.

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