The best wake-up call for Kyle Brooks during the school year starts at 6:30 a.m., when he and the other members of the Edmonds-Woodway High School jazz band start practice.
“It’s a good way to get the morning started,” Brooks says. “After that, we go to classical band wind symphony for another hour and a half. Then school starts.”
It must be a long day but he doesn’t mind. At 18, he has been playing the clarinet for seven years and the saxophone for five, and already has some awards under his belt. Brooks recently traveled with the EWHS jazz band to compete in the Essentially Ellington jazz competition in New York City, and won the Outstanding Soloist Award for his performance on the saxophone. In the summer, Brooks also plays with the EWHS Jazz Colony, which gives jazz students a chance to jam and hone their musical skills.
But this doesn’t overwhelm him. He mentions it only when asked and doesn’t go on much about it. For Brooks, the music is a form of therapy, the most relaxing part of his day and the thing that has kept him happy.
Following the death of his mother during his freshman year of high school, Brooks turned to music. His mother had always been a big supporter of his passion for music and in the hard times, he kept at it.
“It was hard to get back on my feet but I think music is what kept me going because it’s been like a family to me.”
The friends Brooks has made through music and the bands he performs in actually have become his family, including one friend in particular with whom he now lives.
“After my mom passed, my dad wasn’t really in a position to take care of me, so my friend David and his family took me in.”
David Piper is also in jazz band with Brooks and plays the trumpet, which makes for a “loud house” between the two of them, he jokes.
Brooks and his friends are all connected to each other by the music, often partaking in CD sharing or introducing new jazz artists to each other.
“I listen to quite a few genres,” he says, “like hip-hop, rock and roll, classical and jazz of course.”
And it’s his love of music that is driving his decisions for the future, as the high school senior starts planning to apply for college.
University of California Berkeley and Boston College are a few of the schools Brooks has included in his college search. “I want to major in jazz studies or composing and those are some places that have really good programs.”
Before he starts sending off applications, however, Brooks has to start practicing to audition for schools in November. “They can be pretty nerve-wracking so I am going to be practicing like crazy.”
When he isn’t preparing for the competitive auditions, Brooks knows that he can relax with some Xbox games or bike riding with his friends, the inner urban trail being one of his favorite destinations.
What excites Brooks the most about music is not completing a tune or ending a show, but instead how music is never finished.
“There’s always something new to learn. You could practice for thousands of hours and never reach an end point.”
As Brooks moves on from Edmonds, he will take with him the music that has kept him going and the passion that will never end.
— By Alexandra Stoffel