Jazz students playing trombone in New Orleans, LA.
The Eau Claire Memorial Jazz Program began as a stage band in the late 60's. The jazz program has grown over the years and now includes three jazz ensembles and various combos that perform regularly in concerts and festivals in Eau Claire and beyond. The jazz program focuses on developing improvisation and learning the various styles of jazz. The bands go to many festivals, both competitive and non-competitive. Memorial jazz bands have been selected the "Best Band" at numerous jazz festivals in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois, including the Rolling Meadows Festival in Chicago, the UW-La Crosse Festival, and the UW-EC Jazz Festival. Memorial Jazz I, II, III and various MHS Combos have all received multiple awards over the years. Mr. Scott Hensiak directs all jazz bands.
Grading in jazz is different than most other classes. Basically, we ask you to get things ready as a performer and you do it. If you do, you will receive an A. If you don't, you get something lower. Effort and attitude are enormously important. Your perfomances are your tests.
Most jazz students take lessons on their instrument and you are strongly urged to take advantage of the boost to your performance, which lessons provide. Most of our students take lessons from one of the UWEC jazz majors or one of the top community jazz instructors.