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Band: George Waltemire, guitarist

You were selected for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association's all-state vocal jazz ensemble and all-state jazz band? How did that come about? Back in December, I got together with my directors from Kennard-Dale (High School to put together) a taped audition. That was sent into the PMEA conference and out of the state, I was selected (out of 17 or 18 other kids) for the only guitar seat. The last couple years, I've been doing district jazz.

How did you react when you found out you made the band? We got the letter in the mail, and right away we started calling relatives. I went in and told my directors (Matt Barr and Charles Barr) It was a really good thing. There were other kids in my school who made states this year (who) were involved with different groups. They were pretty excited, too. I think there were four kids (from Kennard-Dale) who were involved in the (state) festival.

What was it like being there? Did you guys rehearse a lot? Rehearsals were a little more stretched out than districts. At districts, it was a one-day rehearsal and that was 10 to 12 hours. States was a little less stressful. (Rehearsals at states) were split into two days.

What was the highlight of the experience for you? For me, the highlight was probably getting to recognize talent that was there. For the all-state festival, there were all different groups. They had a vocal ensemble jazz group that actually performed before us. They also had an all-state chorus group.

When did you start playing guitar? I started really young. I think I was about maybe 7 or 8 when I first picked it up. My dad had showed me some basic stuff to work on. I actually picked up with lessons when I was about 10. If it wasn't for (my dad), I probably wouldn't be playing the guitar.

What are your influences? Like anything other than jazz? (Jazz) wouldn't be the first music I would choose as a liking. Right now, I'm into the group Dream Theater. They're like a progressive rock group, so that's completely contrary to jazz. When it comes to jazz, I like a lot of fusion, which is like a rock form of jazz. Anything that has a rock edge to it, I'm into.

Ever think of starting a band? I'm in a bunch of different projects right now. I play with two guys, a drummer and a bass player. We usually play gigs in the summer, and we usually play . . . a music festival (in Stewartstown.) We've only been a band for maybe about a year. We're trying to get together a lot more and trying to play shows.

Do you guys have a name? Actually, no. (Laughs) We're just playing out right now. The other two guys I play with are extremely busy, so it's hard to get together. I'm in another group with those same guys. Curt Sipe is a jazz director up in Jacobus. He directs (youth) jazz bands, and we're in one of those together. We see each other a lot while doing that.

Do you plan to study music in college? I'm still trying to decide what exactly I want to study. I was looking at (The University of the Arts) in Philly, and I was thinking about studying jazz performance. On the other end, I was looking at Berklee (College of Music) in Massachusetts. For guitar, (they have) more variety of styles you can study up there. You can get involved in a lot of rock. One of the main reasons I looked at Berklee is that it's really popular and you do hear a lot of musicians who come out of there.

- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF

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