2011-2012 Education Season Preview

Phil Dunlap

Well, it’s that time of year again; the time when we look toward the start of another great season and educational programming. If you’ve seen the upcoming Jazz at the Bistro lineup, you know that we have quite a season in store, and the education end of things is no different!

This past spring, 85 students from the metro area auditioned to be part of JazzU, which is  now entering its 5th year.  Of those who auditioned, 55 were accepted into the program.  Groups, meeting dates, and times have been assigned and students are anxiously awaiting the mid-September start date of this intense, 32-week long program.  This new class of students represents the largest in the program’s history, with seven student combos (up one from last year) representing students from more than 40 schools.

The Jazz St. Louis All-Stars, which comprises approximately the top 10% of those who auditioned, took seven members into its ranks for the coming season (three returning).  A new twist this year is that four of the seven members come from the Illinois side of the river, which is the first time that a majority of the members have not been from Missouri.  You can read up on each of the All-Stars on their bio page, located here.

On the faculty side of things, we continue to offer students the opportunity to study with some of the finest musician/educators this area has to offer, including our Artist-in-Residence, Peter Martin, who joins us for a second year.  New to the JazzU faculty is pianist Adaron “Pops” Jackson.  Check out the full list of faculty and their bios by clicking here.

Because of generous support, we are able to continue our amazing Artist Residency program with three amazing artists/educators.  The Sherman Irby Quintet, Byron Stripling and Matt Wilson’s Arts and Crafts will each be joining us for a week, visiting schools, working with JazzU students and conducting master classes.  All of this concludes with weekend performances at Jazz at the Bistro.  Schools/teachers interested in hosting an artist should visit the Residency page to download the request form.

Also continuing this year are our 2011 Youth Concerts, presented by PNC Arts Alive.  Last year over 3000 students and teachers attended these concerts.  Featuring JazzReach, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to the promotion, creation, teaching and performance of jazz music, these engaging and interactive performances are great for students of all ages.  We are grateful to the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ College of Arts and Sciences for hosting these concerts at the amazing Touhill Performing Arts Center on October 10 & 11, 2011.  To check out the performance offerings and to download the ticket request form, click here.

The Emerson Jazz in the Schools program has brought Jazz at the Bistro artists into area schools for the past 11 years.  A few years ago we were able to make artists’ participation in this program a permanent part of their obligations while in St. Louis.  This year being no exception, all 18 of the artists appearing on the Jazz at the Bistro stage will do some type of education activity under the banner of this program.  This allows us to bring artists like Take 6, Ramsey Lewis, Kurt Elling, Freddy Cole and Stanley Clarke to schools  in the St. Louis area that would otherwise never have the opportunity to host artists of their stature.  This, of course, would not be possible without the generosity of the artists involved.

New this year is our first foray into the general music classroom with our new curriculum, Jazz Concepts for the Young Beginner.  Currently being piloted in five St. Louis Public and six Arch Diocese schools, this new resource focuses on teaching basic jazz concepts to general music students in grades 5-9.  Featuring 11 engaging and interactive lessons, students learn rhythmic, harmonic, and improvisation concepts as well as a solid understanding of the social and cultural climate that made the development of jazz possible.  Look for more about this as the school year progresses.

Without writing too much, let me just say that we at JSL are extremely excited for the coming year in education.  The best part is that all of these resources are completely FREE for participating students, teachers, and schools.  We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the generous support of so many individuals, corporations, foundations, and collaborative non-profits.  Anyone interested in these programs can contact me, Phil Dunlap, at 314.289.4033 or phil@jazzstl.org.


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