MC Senior Percussionist Reflects on His Time in the Jazz Band
Courtney Derricks, a graduating member of the band, discusses what sets the growing ensemble apart.
The Mississippi College Jazz Band has been a vital part of the many instrumental ensembles at MC. The smallest of the ensembles, the jazz band comprises approximately 30-40 students varying in classification and major. Among the most experienced of the jazz band musicians is senior Courtney Derricks, who has played as a percussionist on the jazz band for all four years of his college career.
Derricks is a senior majoring in History with a minor in African-American Studies, but alongside his academics, he has a passion for music. As a senior in high school, Derricks had only heard about MC’s new marching band, but upon entering MC, he noticed all the other musical ensembles, like the jazz band. He joined as a percussionist. Over the course of his college career, he would rotate between playing drum set, vibraphone, and auxiliary percussion for the band.
“The jazz band has a really big reputation,” Derricks commented. “They get asked all the time to perform, and it’s just been really fun.”
Derricks has built a strong relationship with jazz band director Wayne Linenhan. “He is a great teacher,” Derricks explained. “He always breaks things down, and he also has these cool stories that he’ll tell in class. But him as a teacher, just based on my experience alone – he’s good at teaching music because he also allows us to have fun while we play the music.”
Linenhan has made many positive impacts, including on Derricks’ personal musicianship. “He talked about being a drummer at some point before, and so he was one of those people who was hard on me at the beginning, which made me push myself to practice more,” Derricks expressed.
Derricks enjoyed the “cool and relaxed” environment that Linenhan maintained during rehearsals. “We can still get a lot done but also have fun and joke around, which is something I want to acquire if ever I have my drumline or do anything I pursue musically,” Derricks said.
Following his final fall jazz band performance on Tuesday, November 7, Derricks noted how much bigger the jazz band has gotten over time. “There’s a lot of freshmen,” Derricks said. “You’ve seen that they were doing great things like performing solos. From that, you could catch a glimpse of the confidence that the band has in each member, because typically, when solos are given out, they almost always go to the same person. But to have different people in our band do solos just shows you the range of talent in the band.”
Derricks said that the concert was “one of the best performances that I have ever played in my life.” He recognizes all of the other musicians in the jazz band as a part of his success. “Being surrounded by really talented musicians makes you a better musician yourself,” Derricks expressed.
“Courtney is a great guy and a great percussionist,” freshman percussionist Orrin Ainsworth commented. “He’s very solid on the drums. I appreciate how helpful he is during rehearsals and performances.”
Derricks hopes that when he graduates, the jazz band will continue to grow.
“I love that we get to go out and perform, but I hope that we continue to maintain and uphold the level of performance, because I truly feel like we are going places.”
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