Jacob Stratton Kiehl

I have been playing music since I was 5, starting on a old keyboard that was once my dad’s. After owning it for five years, I had begun to start playing songs from the radio or video games by ear, and my parents knew it was time for me to start taking lessons and get serious about music, so since then I have been taking piano lessons. In sixth grade, I was allowed to join the band at my school, and I played the alto sax. It was quite a small band (around 9 people) in quite a small school (180 people, K-8). The next year, I took band twice, once with my sax in second year band and once with the trombone in first year. In the year after that, I realized that trombone isn’t the right instrument for me, so I instead accompanied the first year band on piano while continuing on with my sax for a third year. By that point, there were only four people left in the band including myself. Once I moved on to high school, I was presented with many more musical opportunities, including a guitar class. I’m not the greatest at guitar, but I can play enough chords and melodies to be annoying at a party. That year I was also 2nd alto for the jazz band at school. This current year has been completely virtual, so the band doesn’t have much to do, but I did manage to get the role of pianist for the jazz band, as I had apparently sold myself short the previous year. The jazz band auditions happened very early in the year, and I was a freshman, so the band director knew nothing about me. He had already selected me as a sax player for the jazz band before he heard me play the piano, and once he did, he realized I was playing the wrong instrument for jazz, but it was already too late. However, the spot was guaranteed to be reserved for me for this year, so I had nothing to worry about. The band program at my previous school was quite lackluster due to the size of the school and its band, and joining the jazz band on the sax forced me to learn a lot very quickly, so overall, I’m thankful that I was playing the “wrong” instrument in jazz, because without that experience, I wouldn’t be as good at the sax as I now am. Lastly, this year has been taught exclusively virtually with the only exception being the rhythm section of the jazz band meeting every Tuesday, so everyone has been deprived of the musical interaction that they crave. Therefore, since a few months ago, I have been teaching myself to play the accordion.

You can find Jacob’s performance here.

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