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Jazz Band Earns Boston Gig

Gold Medalists at State Competition
The RMHS Jazz Band performed at Boston’s Hatch Memorial Shell after earning gold at the state competition.

The RMHS Band won a gold medal at the MAJE state competition on March 16th in Norwood, earning the right to perform at the Hatch Memorial Shell on the banks of the Charles River in Boston.

MAJE, or the Massachusetts Association for Jazz Education holds five regional competitions starting at the end of February and going into the beginning of March as well as a state competition that occurs in mid March. The Jazz Band at RMHS, led by Mr. Mulligan, competed in the Northeast District regionals held in our very own Endslow Performing Arts Center on March 7th. There were roughly fourteen other schools at this competition including North Reading, Boston Latin, Norwood, and Wakefield. The RMHS band received a Gold Medal and moved onto the state competition the following week.

The scoring at this competition is a little different from athletics. Band President, Bowen Willis (‘24) stated “One of the great things about MAJE festivals is that we are only competing against ourselves. Every band can get a gold medal and move on or it is possible that no one gets a gold medal and no one moves on.” When competing at regionals and states the bands may receive one of four different medals. There’s merit, bronze, silver, and gold. The bands that received gold at regionals then move onto states and the bands that receive Gold at states get to perform at the Hatch Shell in Boston at the beginning of May. 

MAJE isn’t new to the musicians here at RMHS. According to Mr. Mulligan the band has been competing in the competition for 42 years, the first time being in 1982. Over the years the band has scored differently in the five rubric categories that determine who gets which medal. The categories are Improvisation, Rhythm Section, Ensemble Rhythmic Accuracy, Ensemble Musicality, and Ensemble Qualities. Each of the three judges are given a total of 25 points to give out per performance. The categories are worth five points each, adding up to a total of 75 points, however the scores are given to the bands out of 25. At regionals the band scored a 23 and at states they scored a 24.

Willis also shared an interesting aspect of the competition. “Since Reading typically hosts the Northeast Regional Festival, Reading band members from both the Stage Band and Jazz Band work jobs. These jobs can be checking in bands at the cafeteria where each band leaves their cases and equipment they do not need on stage, guiding bands around the school, or being on the stage crew.” This year he was given the opportunity to work alongside the judges. “I worked with the judges recording where I had to download their comments onto a computer and put them in folders for each band.”

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