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NKHS band jazzed about weekend fest

POULSBO — NKHS band alto saxophonist Walter Vogel knows a good solo when he hears one.

This Friday, it will be his turn to play his sax above the rest of the band for a moment — and the senior said he’ll cherish every minute of it.

“When you solo, you are expressing yourself — the possibilities are endless,” Vogel said. “You can make a piece of music come alive with those around you.”

Vogel and Krissy Dickson, who also plays the alto sax, will perform at the school’s annual Jazz Fest, this Friday for the high school level. The event marks both a beginning and an end for the two seniors.

Jazz Fest is the first event in a string of spring competitions in which David Dunbar’s band at the high school will compete. But for Dickson and Vogel, this year’s Fest will be their last. The pair have played seven years in band programs spanning three different schools in the North Kitsap School District.

Vogel began playing at Wolfle Elementary in the fifth grade. He fell in love with the saxophone early on in his music career.

“It is the jazz instrument,” Vogel said. “I just thought it’d be a cool thing to do.”

Dickson began playing at the same time, a few miles away at Breidablik. For her, getting into music was only a matter of time.

“I grew up playing a plastic saxophone in my house,” Dickson said. “We always had music in our house growing up.”

The pair played together under Jeff Haag when they entered the seventh grade at Kingston Junior High School. There, the saxophone pair first experienced playing at Jazz Fest. Dickson said she recalls being in awe of the high schoolers back then.

Now, she is the one the junior high kids watch with awe.

“It’s so cool to see the junior high kids in the audience go ‘whoa!’ when we perform,” Dickson said, “Because that’s what I did when I was in junior high.”

Playing in high school was never the desired end result for either senior but their love of music and the band program was inspiration.

“(Music) has become a part of me,” Vogel said. “It wasn’t my goal to play at NKHS but just something that evolved.”

“I didn’t know if I could make the (high school) commitment,” Dickson said. “But I did.”

Jazz Fest marks the start of many competitions, which can put a lot of stress on the band but the seniors have come to enjoy.

“There’s not a better thing when you put everything you have into it,” Dickson said. “You work for that day to perform.”

Whether the two choose to play their instruments in college or not, they agreed participating in band has taught them things you can’t learn in the classroom.

“Getting to play music and create something of your own — its an outlet for a lot of your emotion,” Vogel said.

The band has given the two a camaraderie with others they’d have never enjoyed outside of the band, they agreed.

“There’s more of a family aspect than people think,” Vogel said. “It’s all about the experience and the people you share it with.”

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