HANNIBAL | Jacob Bross plays a jazzy drum break on the gleaming red Gretsch drum kit in the Hannibal High School band room Tuesday, demonstrating how his work ethic brought him success as a member of the Missouri All-State Band for three years.
The senior practices extra each day, works with his HHS band directors outside of class and takes lessons with Quincy University Director of Bands Bill Machold. Bross' dedication doesn't stop there, as he volunteers through the Service in Action program to help students setting out on their own musical journeys at the Hannibal Middle School — just as he did a few years ago.
Bross qualified for the All-State Jazz Band and for first chair in the All-State Concert Band and Orchestra simultaneously this year, again getting the chance to play with fellow musicians who are among the best in Missouri.
“It definitely feels really good. I've been working really hard for it — it definitely pays off,” Bross said. “It's always really great to go play at the state bands, because I get to play with all those other musicians who've also worked really hard. So, just getting to play with them is an unreal experience — I don't even know how to describe it.”
During his jazz audition, he performed a drum solo for each of several songs known as “jazz heads.” He particularly liked the followup callback sessions with fellow musicians.
“You can groove with the other musicians, and that's what the judges are listening for — how well you play with other people,” Bross said. “That's something I just really enjoy.”
Bross played musical excerpts on the snare drum, the timpani and the marimba for the All-State Concert Band auditions. He put in a lot of work for the timpani part he sought, and he remembered meeting the challenge of getting his feet to follow what his ear wanted them to do to change the notes.
By the time Bross was a sophomore, he was named to the All-State Jazz Band for the second year in a row. Bross gained valuable knowledge with each passing year.
“I've learned how to practice, and that sounds really weird, but a lot of younger musicians don't really know how to practice effectively,” Bross said.
Bross said practicing more frequently and effectively, playing gigs with fellow musicians and taking advantage of lessons outside of class have collectively helped him improve in his musical endeavors. He also attended a jazz camp last summer at North Texas University — one of the schools he is auditioning to join — playing with acclaimed professionals like Ed Soph.
Mike Fuller, one of Bross' band directors, said Bross' dedication is evident through his musical skills and his leadership qualities. Each day, Bross practices at least a half-hour before class begins. He practices after-school another half-hour at Hannibal Middle School, and he played throughout Thanksgiving break and Christmas break.
“He's very dedicated to his work and he's very serious about his practice sessions and trying to assess and make sure he's getting better — he's not just playing to hit the drums,” Fuller said.
Through Service in Action, Bross devotes one block to providing trumpet lessons, working one-on-one with beginning students playing snare drums and mallets and providing inspiration to students getting started in music. He leads percussion sectionals at HHS and assists with parades and marching band performances in the role of “on-field commander.”
“He's done a lot for us in the leadership department as well,” Fuller said.
Bross is looking ahead to a future in music after getting to share his knowledge with musicians at HHS and HMS — he is auditioning for the University of Missouri- Kansas City and the University of North Texas. He plans to study jazz performance if he is accepted to North Texas. He will likely pursue music education if he gets the nod from UMKC. Bross said the experiences he gained over the years have been invaluable.
“It's definitely been a journey — seeing how I've grown throughout high school and the different things I've learned and the different people I've gotten to play with,” Bross said. “It's definitely really cool getting to play at state for the last time and going on to whatever the future holds.”