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Getting schooled by jazz

Daily Staff Writer
Special to the Daily The Jazz Goes to School Quartet performs at the Vail Marriott on Monday at 8:30 p.m. The cats can groove.
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Jazz Goes to School isn’t just for kids – the quartet plays for adults, too. While Monday and Tuesday mark the final session with school kids at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek, the musicians will step out to the Vail Marriott on Monday night at 8:30 to give a bit of musical what-for to folks.

The musical educators have been together for years, and are lead by Tony Gulizia (keyboard and vocals), who directs the Jazz Goes to School program. Tony’s brother, Joey (drummer), is also a professional jazz musician and educator, co-presents the sessions. Other professional musicians and clinicians who assist the Gulizia brothers include Kirk Garrison (trumpet), Andy Hall (bass) and Roger Neuman (saxophone). When they’re let loose, it’s a jazz-centric hoedown of epic proportions. The cats can groove.

The fourth and final session scheduled for mid-April, will feature the 5th Annual Jazz Goes to School Student Concerts at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek for all elementary school students participating in the program. The Student Concerts demonstrate all of the concepts taught in the first three classroom sessions and feature music written and/or performed by the greatest jazz musicians in history as well as blues tunes written by the fifth grade students.

The program is presented by the Vail Jazz Foundation to all fourth and fifth graders in the public schools of Eagle County, plus the Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Eagle Valley Christian Academy and St. Clare of Assisi. Now in its sixth year, Jazz Goes to School has reached more than 1,000 students this year. This program offers an integrated approach to teaching music and social studies at the elementary school level.

And kids think it’s cool.

Jazz Goes to School is a fun and interactive program, formatted as a sequential series of four 45-minute lessons, that are presented during the course of the school year.

“I have many students who have gone on to play instruments and enrich their lives because of their experience with Jazz Goes To School,” said Kim Kohlhofer, Avon Elementary music teacher.

Up to five professional musicians present a lesson that includes age-appropriate discussions of the history of jazz and the fundamental elements comprising jazz. In addition there are demonstrations of the playing of instruments generally used in jazz and of famous jazz compositions and popular children’s songs in jazz style. In every lesson students learn through participation by playing a variety of drums and percussion instruments to understand jazz rhythms, singing and clapping to demonstrate concepts such as call and response, and playing special melodic instruments in order to experience improvisation. Formal lesson plans, post-lesson plans and visual aids are provided to each of the school’s music instructors to help reinforce the lessons taught in each session. By blending these subjects in a lesson plan, the educators link various social studies subjects that students are exposed to in their regular curriculum to the history of jazz in a stimulating manner.

And best of all, when the Jazz Goes to School Quartet is together, they like to do what they do best – play to beat the band.


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