The Penn Jazz students, after getting some much needed rest, woke up Wednesday morning to a complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby. After gathering instruments and music, the band headed across the street to the Civic Center to check in and begin the day.

Students wait in the lobby to leave for the Civic Center Wednesday morning
Jacob, Sam, and David reading over the schedule for the day

The band checked in at 9 AM and had some time to mingle with other bands before the welcome concert began.

Penn students chat with students from the other 11 schools at the festival

The Swing Central Jazz Festival did an amazing job assembling an incredible line up of some of the best jazz clinicians across the country. To welcome all 12 bands to the festival, the clinicians put together their own big band and played the tunes that each high school would be playing at the competition on Friday.

After the welcome concert, all of the participating students went to their individual instrument clinics and met with some of the world class musicians available to them. We, the students, got to be up close and personal with the leaders of the industry, and were able to present what we were working on to the other high schoolers there with us. Penn trumpet player Gannon Bennett says that he “learned a lot,” in the clinics and has “to try some of this out sometime.”

Saxophone players Hunter and David playing for the clinicians

Our first clinic as a full band together was aimed at helping out the rhythm section. However, after making a few changes, the clinicians proceeded to address the entire band, even giving tips to soloists throughout the session.

After the clinic, we went to dinner at a famous destination in downtown Savannah, the Pirates’ House (20 E Broad St, Savannah, GA 31401). We had a room reserved for us including a buffet of traditional southern fare, banana pudding for dessert, and a brief lesson on the historical significance of the location of the building.

Parents and students enjoy dinner at the Pirates’ House

Following dinner, everyone headed on the bus to go to the last activity of the day: the Cecille McLorin Salvant and Monty Alexander Trio Concert. For me personally, this concert was the highlight of the day. It was electric and exciting, and made me wish I could go practice immediately after watching it to try out some of the cool stuff they played. Other members of our band were similarly inspired; many students even had the tunes stuck in their heads during the bus ride back to the hotel.

Students ready for the concert
The Cecille McLorin Salvant and Monty Alexander Trio Concert took place at an intimate venue

The concert went a bit late and we got back to our hotel at 11:45. Tomorrow, weather permitting, is our On The River Concert, where we will play There You Go Again and Phrygian Five.

Thanks for reading and check back in tomorrow night to see how it all goes!

Friday at 10:50 AM you can stream our performance LIVE at http://wsav.con/category/2016-savannah-music-festival/ 

By Kevin McNulty

Kevin McNulty teaches English and Mass Media Studies at Penn High School. He advises the Penn News Network and manages the PNN Studio and news room. For more information, navigate your browser to