Vail Jazz Goes to School returning to local schools
VAIL — Vail Jazz has filled the halls of every elementary school in the Eagle River Valley with sounds of jazz, thanks to the return of Vail Jazz Goes to School. Heralded as the only program of its kind in the nation, this program, now in its 19th year, introduces youngsters to the basic tenets of jazz music at an age when they are starting to open their minds – and ears – to different styles of music. The program was developed in 1997 as a way of bringing jazz to young students and has succeeded at creating excitement and anticipation in classrooms across the county for jazz.
Led by the local jazz master Tony Gulizia, the program takes youngsters on a journey from the very origins of jazz in Africa and follows the development and geographical path that jazz took to develop into America’s original art form.
This year’s Vail Jazz Goes to School program kicked off on Monday with visits to 16 local elementary schools, and educated more than 1,200 students in session one of four visits that take place during the school year. Session one featured Tony Gulizia, along with brother and drummer, Joey Gulizia, as well as percussionist Michael Pujado.
While classroom teachers focus on core curriculum, Vail Jazz Goes to School offers a respite for both students and teachers alike.
“In this era where creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication are every bit as important as reading, writing and mathematics — music and arts education are critical to our children growing up to be happy, successful and appreciative of all the wonders life has to offer,” Eagle County School District Superintendent Jason Glass said. “Eagle County Schools is incredibly grateful to Vail Jazz for bringing quality music programming to all our students and keeping the vibrant and dynamic music of jazz alive for generations to come.”
Planting the seeds
Throughout the course of the four sessions of Vail Jazz Goes to School, fourth- and fifth-graders learn about the jazz beat, the rhythms that makes jazz unique and learn to write their own lyrics to the 12 bar blues scale, ultimately hearing some of their creations performed at the final concert in April at the Vilar Performing Arts Center. In session one, students learned about how Africans made simple instruments to communicate their music, using gourds and tree trunks to carve and hollow out their instruments.
“It’s wonderful to see how engaged our local students are when they hear Mr. Gulizia’s stories of how jazz began,” Vail Jazz Executive Director Robin Litt said. “While we hope that some of them will someday pick up an instrument and play jazz, our overarching goal of Vail Jazz Goes to School is to expose youngsters to the art form at an impressionable age. Many students in fourth-and fifth-grade are starting private lessons on instruments or taking recorder in their school music class. We hope this program opens their ears to what jazz is all about.”
Vail Jazz Goes to School is presented through grants from Vail Resorts Epic Promise, Alpine Bank, United Way Eagle River Valley, along with support from individuals and family foundations. To find out more about the program, please check out http://www.vailjazz.org.