Derick Polk is no stranger to improvisation — both as a musician, and as Director of the Bremerton WestSound Symphony’s Youth Jazz. Through the pandemic he’s led rehearsals over Zoom and in socially distanced practice rooms, and he’s balanced a tricky mix of beginners and advanced musicians. His latest improvisation is welcoming a new batch of players half-way through the season.
“We require proof of vaccination, which has meant kids under twelve haven’t been able to participate,” says Bremerton Symphony Operations Manager Tricia Soriano. “We want to welcome those kids who just got vaccinated, and anyone else who’s just learning about the program. If you’re interested in playing, we’ll find a place for you.”
There’s no such thing as a non-jazz instrument
Polk accepts any youth aged 10-18 with at least one year of experience on their instrument. No jazz experience is needed, and while Polk says it’s useful to be able to read music, players with a good ear will also do well.
“If players are self-taught I’ll hear them play and see where they’re at. I can help with reading music if you’re new to that, and I also teach my students that jazz isn’t just about reading music — they have to learn to listen and use their ears,” he says.
The ensemble has welcomed cello, violin, ukulele and flute alongside more common jazz instruments like piano, trumpet and drums.
“There’s no such thing as a non-jazz instrument,” Polk says.
With fewer opportunities for children to learn music in school, Polk has spent more time helping beginners get up to speed. Right now there are seven kids in the ensemble — each from a different school — and if they can double their numbers he looks forward to making two groups, one for beginners and one for more experienced players.
“We’ve also had a few musician parents come in and help out at rehearsals. It’s great to have extra help and involve more family members.”
Sunday rehearsals and many performance opportunities
Youth Jazz rehearses Sundays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at North Point Church, Poulsbo, from September until just before Memorial Day in May. Bremerton Symphony also plans to host their Jazz summer camp again in the first week of August at Manette Community Church.
“We offer scholarships and payment plans to help pay tuition fees,” Soriano says. “The goal is to be as accessible as possible.”
And keep an eye out for the Youth Jazz Ensemble performing around Kitsap County at the Admiral Theatre, the Kitsap Fair, Friday Art Walks and other community events!
Learn more at bremertonwestsoundsymphony.org/youth-jazz-ensemble. Call 360.373.1722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.