Following in the footsteps of her father and grandmother, ninth-grader Ella Lenhart has developed a love for the saxophone. Starting out playing the tenor saxophone in seventh grade, Lenhart has found a passion for the instrument over the past two years.
Due to her excellent skill when it comes to playing the saxophone, Lenhart has risen above her classmates and joined the most prestigious band at Pine View. Lenhart is part of the Jazz Band at Pine View, which as a freshman is seldom heard of. Being one of only two freshmen in a class full of juniors and seniors, Lenhart has been able to prove herself as an amazing saxophone player.
According to Lenhart, she values her spot in Jazz Band as a saxophone player. “I love how the saxophone sounds in jazz, and it’s always the tenor saxophone that is most prominent, so I wanted to play that. Also, not a lot of girls try tenor because of its size and weight, and my dad and grandma played saxophone so I wanted to continue on with the legacy,” Lenhart said.
Outside of school, Lenhart continues to go above and beyond with her saxophone playing. She practices around eight hours a week outside of school, sometimes even 10. Lenhart also takes private lessons with Bill Barbanera at a studio in Sarasota every Saturday for an hour to improve her skills.
Not only does Lenhart perform with the Pine View Jazz Band at Pine View’s fall and spring concerts and at many gigs that Pine View coordinates, but she also competes in competitions where she travels and auditions to be awarded best tenor saxophonist in the district. “I do a lot of classical music auditions like Concert Band, Honor Band, and Soul Ensemble outside of Pine View where I travel to Riverview or Bradenton, where I audition to get into the best bands for my instrument in the district or even the state of Florida. I have to practice during the summer when I learn two pieces and all my scales,” Lenhart said.
Unlike the other bands at Pine View, Jazz Band learns about 40 pieces a year, while the other bands learn about six. “Jazz Band pieces are normally quicker, so it’s a higher working level and you always have to be focused and paying attention,” Lenhart said. Jazz Band differentiates from the other Pine View bands because of the pieces they learn. “Jazz Band is so cool. From the beginning I always wanted to join Jazz Band; I love Jazz and it’s the highest band I can get into at Pine View. I love being able to play with the best seniors; I’m able to learn as a freshman how to live up to my best abilities,” she said.
Lenhart’s father, Jim Lenhart, is very proud of his daughter’s accomplishments as a musician. “It’s too early to tell just how far she’ll go with her saxophone, but her love of jazz is so cool to see as a parent. It’s not every day you see a high schooler do homework or relax while listening to John Coltrane. I know she will carry this love of music, and in particular jazz music, with her throughout her life,” he said.
For over two years, getting into Jazz Band was one of Lenhart’s many goals. Now she is looking to perfect the art she practices every day and be the best tenor saxophone player she can be.