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First Jazz Saxophone Festival teaches, empowers students

Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Staff Photographer
Adam Schroeder rehearses with students as part of the first annual Jazz Saxophone Festival May 20 held by the Texas State University School of Music.

The first Texas State University Jazz Saxophone Festival opened May 18, kicking off a four-day celebration of the genre at the Performing Arts Center recital hall.

The event featured instructional sessions and performances by world-renowned saxophonists Ralph Bowen, Luis Hernandez, Adam Schroeder and Dick Oatts.

Schroeder, a baritone saxophonist and Texas State alumnus, said he received his first record deal with Columbia Records while at the university.

Schroeder said he has since played alongside some of music’s greatest talents, including the legendary singer and songwriter Ray Charles.

Schroeder said he has developed a lifelong dedication to sharing his musical talent with other jazz lovers across the world.

“Jazz is such an easy art form, and it speaks to so many around the globe,” Schroeder said. “It is a beautiful thing for me to witness and share with others.”

Russell Haight, assistant jazz professor, coordinated the festival as a way to bring in experienced saxophonists to guide and instruct the aspiring jazz musicians studying at Texas State.

Haight selected musicians he admires and enjoys over the course of the coordinating process .

“All of the artists we brought in are world class and truly at the top of their field,” Haight said. “I thought it was important to get artists here that have a history and really play at a very high level.”

Haight said the combination of classes and evening performances proved to be a successful formula.

“I think it went great,” Haight said. “The artists played at such a high level, and to be up close and personal—and especially to have the students playing next to them—was the best part of it all.”

Adam Garcia, music studies senior, said he walked away with a great deal of knowledge after attending all four days of the festival.

Garcia said the celebration helped him  expand his love for the genre.

“Music makes it easier to express myself,” Garcia said. “I really enjoy it and I never get tired of it. I realize there is always a lot more to learn with music.”

Garcia said the clinics he attended allowed him to receive constructive criticism from seasoned professional saxophonists.

Garcia said it was an honor to be able to perform in front of his favorite musicians.

“I’ve watched videos of them on YouTube and I have their CDs,” Garcia said. “It was really cool to meet the people you have been listening to all of this time.”

Garcia said he carries a deep admiration for each of the artists and hopes their constructive criticism will improve his technique for future performances.

“They have given us so much information to think about and work on,” Garcia said. “They have given us years and years worth of information within these four days.”

Schroeder said he was once in the same shoes as the student musicians and enjoyed the opportunity to give advice.

“No matter how much the struggle may seem, you are better than you think you are,” Schroeder said. “Stay positive about the music and keep on keeping on.”