Being a part of the jazz department has been an incredible experience. Coming to Valley my freshman year, I had no idea that I would develop such a passion for music or that all I learned would prove to be so valuable. The artistic expression and raw communication between musicians that I have witnessed has been truly beautiful. It is such a great privilege for me to be able to say that the musicians that I have played with and studied under have also become great friends of mine, and through them I have been inspired to reach for my full potential (both in music and in all other aspects of my life) and have learned to appreciate all forms of creativity.
It has been wonderful not only growing as a musician and in my relationships with everyone in the band, but also having the pleasure of watching my peers grow. I love you guys and am extremely proud of you. It is so clear that God has wonderful things in store for you, and I look forward to seeing His plans unfold in your lives. Make the most of every moment that you have, work hard, and don’t forget to take some time to laugh! To come upon such a tight group of people is pretty rare; and I can’t thank my friends, Mrs. Adams, and Mr. G enough for making something so rare possible for the past four years.
I have been a part of Valley Christian’s jazz program since 8th grade and it has had a tremendous impact on my life. After taking a year off from music in seventh grade, Valley’s program (particularly Mr. G himself) ignited my last ember of musicality and set ablaze a new found passion that gave me many memories throughout junior high and high school.
If I had only one thing to tell all you underclassmen, it would be to cherish every moment you have in this program. I know everybody says this, but it really is over in the blink of an eye. The memories I have made in this program are irreplaceable and will stay with me forever; unfortunately, they seem to have happened too fast.
The most important thing I’ve learned from being a part of the Valley Christian Jazz program is not how to play a double C or how to play over Giant Steps (which are added bonuses of the program though), but is to appreciate all kinds of music and creativity. From various musical events, I have learned to appreciate and admire all aspects of creativity, a trait that will help me in my musical pursuits as well as in my networking and friendships. Let’s face it, winning a jazz festival is based on the subjective decision of a tired, old, and grumpy jazz festival judge, and will not always go in your favor. The real winners are those who go in and come out of a jazz festival inspired and more appreciative of their peer performers. I’ll be able to use these new acquired traits to help network myself and make friends down in college at University of California, San Diego where I will be majoring in Electrical Engineering.
To all who have been in a band with me, thank you for making this such an enjoyable group. Musically, we were sound, and personally, I can’t think of any other band that has as much personality as us. We really did have a family relationship (especially after spending a week with one another 2700 miles across the Pacific Ocean). For those who have a little bit of time left in high school, enjoy it, and while keeping your eyes on Him, never cease to work hard to present the greatest musical offering you can to the Lord.
Mr. G really makes learning music fun and a memorable experience.
The atmosphere in the classroom is unbeatable. The trips over the years have been very fun, especially the recent trip to Hawaii.
My favorite memories of the jazz band are those I made on the countless trips to festivals and concerts over the past seven years. I have grown a tremendous amount since I have started in Mr. G’s program and am grateful to him for all he has shared with me.
Being in the high school jazz band was a very memorable experience. I have never once regretted taking jazz band every year as my only elective because I simply enjoyed being there. There were really two parts to the whole experience: the music and the people.
Musically, I learned that if I wanted to play, it wouldn’t be out of force or obligation, but out of a pure desire to play jazz. I was challenged, sometimes to my frustration, but always encouraged. What really grew out of a class I took just because my sister did was a love for jazz music itself. Today my favorite artist is Wayne Shorter, and jazz fills the majority of my itunes collection. The other great part about valley’s jazz band was the people. Whether we drove 4 hours or 40 minutes, “band trips” were always an adventure.
Over the years we felt more like a family and I think that was the most distinct part about our band. Although I am not a music major in any way, I still play in the jazz band just for fun. It’s really a blessing to be able to have the skill of playing even though my career does not depend upon it. To the current high school jazz band, I would say there are going to be good days and bad days, but stick with it if you really enjoy playing because it’s really worth it in the end. Oh, and “go band.”
Please send information about our alumni to webmaster[at]vcjazz.org.
Class of 2011
- Spencer Brodhead, University Of Southern California, Music
- Chelsea Chida, University of California, Riverside
- Kevin Dorn, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology
- Ian Fong, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering
- Ryan McCray
- Brianna Pritchett, Carnegie Mellon University, Engineering
- Rebecca Roth, University Of Michigan, Political Science
- Johanne Ramirez, California State University, Northridge, Music
- Denise Tran, Northeastern University, PharmD
Class of 2010
- Nick Sutton, Berklee School of Music, Music
- Ben Adams, Berklee School of Music, Music
- Megan Jasso, San Jose State University
- Gabe Weitzman, University of California, Berkeley, Psychology
- Giancarlo Antonelli, West Valley College
Class of 2009
- Greg Chen, Manhattan School of Music, Music
- Jordan Smead, San Jose State University, Business / Accounting
- Chi Tran, University of California, Los Angeles, Psychology
- Dustin Tran, University of California, Riverside, Biological Science
- Mikayla Reynaud, Monterey State University, Marine Biology
- Rebekah Woods, University of Southern California, Recording & Music Technology
Class of 2008
- Brendan Barckley, California State University, Sacramento
- Ryan Bettencourt, San Jose State University
- Matt Carroll, University of California, Santa Barbara
- David Creel, University of the Pacific, Music Management
- Byron Edrington, William Jessup University
- Melanie Joe, San Jose State University
- Jonathan Grizzle, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Aeronautical Sciences
- Brett Kawanami, Azusa Pacific University
- Daniel Merriott, University of California, San Diego, Electrical Engineering
- Michael Morrison, California State University, Northridge, Music Industry
Class of 2007
- Danielle Dupre, University of Southern California – Thorton School of Music, Recording & Music Technology
- Camille Ramirez, California State University, Northridge, Music Performance
- Maleesa Suksiri, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Architecture Major
- Yuma Sung, Manhattan School of Music, Music Composition; Yuma was selected as the pianist of the Grammy Trio in February of 2006.
Class of 2006
- Michael Davis, Manhatten School of Music, Music Performance
- Ian Perry, Biola University, Music Composition
Class of 2005
- Daniel Gaul, Azusa Pacific University
- Sarah Suksiri, California Polytechnic State University, English
- Robby Valderrama, San Jose State University, Business
Class of 2004
- Matt Davis, California Institute of the Arts, Jazz Studies
- Drew Ramsey
- Matt Weins, California Polytechnic State University, Philosophy
Class of 2003
- DJ Adams
Class of 2002
- Andrea Ferrnern, California State University, East Bay, Music / Physics
- Melissa Franklin
Class of 2001
- Brandon Walters, Point Loma University, Music Performance; Brandon is currently touring as lead guitarist with alternative rock artist Greg Laswell, and composing and recording with him on Vanguard Records. In 2008, he co-wrote songs and performed on Minnie Driver’s new album. He performs regularly with many solo artists and groups in Southern California and the Bay area.