Jenny Smith: Leading the beat

By Kiara Torres

Photo courtesy of Jenny Smith

Not many students play let alone know what a marimba is. A marimba is a large wooden percussion instrument that has a similar layout to a piano and is struck with mallets like a xylophone. Senior Jenny Smith is one of the few students at Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) who can play the instrument at an advanced level. She is the captain and center marimba of the front ensemble section in the marching band.

“I enjoy performing with an ensemble like marching band over performing individually because I love being a part of something that is more than just me playing marimba. I am grateful for it,” Smith said.

Smith’s fascination with music began in the first grade when she started to play the piano. Then in the fourth grade, she learned to play the flute. At Nobel Middle School, Smith joined marching band and started off with the flute. However, it was not until the seventh grade when Smith switched to the marimba, which turned out to be her passion.

One of the biggest influences in Smith’s life is her older brother Nicholas Smith, a drummer and former drumline member who inspired her to make the switch to the percussion section. Despite his persistence, she decided against the drums and instead joined front ensemble due to her previous experience with the piano. Front ensemble, otherwise known as the pit, is the non-marching section of marching band and drumline which includes marimbas, xylophones, vibraphones, drumsets, timpanis, and other stationary instruments.

In addition, Smith owes her love for the marimba to middle school band director Anthony Espinoza as well as percussion coaches Julio Diaz and Andrew Ramirez, who taught Smith at Nobel by showing her how to hold the mallets, and have watched her grow since seventh grade. Now, they continue to teach at GHCHS.

“I have seen Jenny progress throughout the years since her middle school days as an instructor, designer, and director of her music programs. She has personally grown in the areas of not just musical talent but leadership skills and motivational skills,” Diaz said.

Smith’s honorary position as captain and center marimba of GHCHS’ front ensemble requires her to help fellow members in the front ensemble section stay on time for their music.

Smith reminisces about wanting to be in these positions as a freshman and said that she feels humbled now that she is there.

In the future, Smith hopes to continue pursuing music by joining a drum corps, a more advanced marching ensemble, and double majoring in music and psychology in college.

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper

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