VAIL — Jazz Goes to School, the Vail Jazz Foundation’s music education program for 4th and 5th graders, returned to Eagle County schools from Monday, March 3 through Thursday, March 6, for its sixteenth year running. This third session brought a trio of professional musician/educators into 15 local schools to share their love of jazz and American History, and to inspire young people to embrace America’s own art form, whether as spectator or musician.
The program was lead by musician/educator Tony Gulizia.
“When the kids get to use their own hands to play an instrument as they do in this session, the beauty of the music really comes alive for them. They understand how it works and why improvisation is at the heart of all jazz music,” said Gulizia.
In this session, Gulizia was joined by two jazz educators — his brother, Joey, drums, and Andy Hall, bass, as they introduced the blues scale and other techniques used in improvisation. Students were taught the notes of the blues scale and musical concepts like dissonance and syncopation. With this foundation, the older students were able to try their hand at creating their own jazz by writing 12 bar blues compositions, lyrics put to a blues beat. At the final concert at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, a selection of the students’ blues compositions was presented in medley to the delight of the young composers who are scattered in the audience. The surprise on their faces when they realized they just heard their lyrics was unforgettable.
“Most kids would never be exposed to jazz, much less understand its development and relevance to American history, without this program”, said Dawn Vallejos, music teacher at Eagle Valley and Edwards Elementary Schools.
The program provided music teachers with a comprehensive curriculum, pre- and post- lesson plans and follow up activities, all of which were to complement the three sessions with the musicians in the classroom.
Jammin’ Jazz Kids, an outgrowth of Jazz Goes to School, which debuted in 2013, will be expanded to offer 9 programs during the month of July in 2014. These will include free interactive programs each Sunday at the Vail Farmers’ Market and more in depth sessions each Monday, in partnership with the Vail Recreation District. The Monday programs will be fee-based and will last 90 minutes. For information, visit www.vailjazz.org/education/jammin-jazz-kids, or call 970-479-6146.