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Mitchell students prove talent in all-state competition

A weekend of playing jazz alongside well-known musicians has inspired four Mitchell students to spend more time practicing their instruments. From May 5-7, students Andrew Weller, Malachi Haddon, Jennifer Luczak and Nadine Moore were selected to ...

Four Mitchell students were selected to play in the South Dakota all-state jazz band. Pictured from left to right is Nadine Moore, Jennifer Luczak, Ryan Stahle, Malachi Haddon and Andrew Weller. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Stahle
Four Mitchell students were selected to play in the South Dakota all-state jazz band. Pictured from left to right is Nadine Moore, Jennifer Luczak, Ryan Stahle, Malachi Haddon and Andrew Weller. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Stahle

A weekend of playing jazz alongside well-known musicians has inspired four Mitchell students to spend more time practicing their instruments.

From May 5-7, students Andrew Weller, Malachi Haddon, Jennifer Luczak and Nadine Moore were selected to be a part of the South Dakota All-State Jazz Band in Aberdeen, said Ryan Stahle, director of bands at Mitchell High School.

These four students were among 50 others chosen from across South Dakota to play in the All-State Jazz Band. In recent years, as many as eight students from Mitchell were selected to play in the prestigious band, Stahle said.

The highlight of this year's jazz band concert was that the students played alongside three professional musicians, including Bob Reynolds.

Reynolds is known for playing with John Mayer and Snarky Puppy.

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Stahle, who also serves as the state chairman for South Dakota All-State Jazz Band, described Reynolds as being "cut-throat" and "intense" like the real world.

"The kids loved him, of course," Stahle said. "He was really down to earth and had some great insight. It was a huge, huge success."

Reynolds was one of the biggest names they've brought in for All-State Jazz Band, Stahle said.

Reynolds was one of three guest conductors. The others included Adam Meckler and William Flynn.

Flynn was a former student of Stahle's and made it into All-State Jazz Band three times while he attended Mitchell High School. Flynn graduated from MHS in 2006.

The students, with instruction from their guest conductors, rehearsed for several days, leading up to a concert on May 7.

Not all kids have the goal to "make it big" or become a professional musician, Stahle said. But it was still inspiring. After the concert ended, Stahle said many of the students were talking about walking right back into the practice room.

"I think everybody walked away from the experience pretty fired up and excited to become better on their instruments," Stahle said. "Every time you see a professional who's made it big time, you start to look at where your abilities are."

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The four students from Mitchell High School

• Andrew Weller, guitar in combo with Bob Reynolds. This is his second year making it to South Dakota all-state jazz band. He had the highest guitar score in the state of South Dakota, according to Stahle.

• Malachi Haddon, alto saxophone 1 (lead alto) in big band with William Flynn.

• Jennifer Luczak, tenor sax 1 (lead tenor) in big band with Adam Meckler.

• Nadine Moore, trumpet 3 in big band with Adam Meckler.

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