As beneficiaries of generous donations from our partners, donors and subscribers, we understand the importance of sharing how this all impacts the work we do here at Jazz St. Louis. With giving season upon us, we wanted to share with you some of the personal stories from our students as a way of saying “thank you” for your support and donations.
We recently had the privilege of sharing the good news of former JazzU student, Matt Sewell. Over the coming weeks, we’ll share a few more stories of the many ways your support is directly impacting the St. Louis community, in hopes that you will understand how necessary you are to the work we do, and also to the students whose lives you are forever changing for the better. Moreover, we hope you will encourage your friends and neighbors to join in this effort of bringing the world of music education, jazz, and live performance to future generations.
“I want to thank the supporters so much. They can’t see what goes on behind the scenes, but I want them to know their money isn’t just going to administration or facility costs. It’s allowing Jazz St. Louis to run these programs and bring these types of experiences to students like me, experiences I probably never would have had.”
– Kendal Blumenthal, Jazz Saxaphone, JazzU/All-Stars Alumni, 2019 Art Harper Scholarship Winner – Class of 2019
Kendal Blumenthal, who cites Kenny Garrett and John Coltrane as some of her influences, graduated from Seckman High School and JazzU in the spring of 2019. She is currently a freshman at Missouri State University, pursuing degrees in Music Education and Jazz Studies. Blumenthal has her sights set on teaching music at the collegiate level, as well as continuing with her performance experience.
Blumenthal’s saxophone career began in the 6th grade when her older sister convinced her to take up the instrument. She joined the middle school jazz band, where she was encouraged by her first band director to invest in private lessons. She credits this moment as opening up her interest in music, and jazz saxophone in particular.
Described as a natural competitor, Blumenthal competed in as many local and state band competitions as she could, which kept her motivated to learn and fine-tune her craft. Then one day, a friend introduced her to the JazzU program at Jazz St. Louis. She spent three years with JazzU before graduating. This experience, she explains, “pushed me outside of my comfort zone.”
Of her time at JazzU, Blumenthal raves about her instructors and their passion for the art form, and the numerous opportunities she’s had to study with professional musicians. In addition to learning from the professionals, Blumenthal has even had opportunities to perform on stage with some of her mentors.
While most students her age are discussing the latest hip-hop or pop tunes, Blumenthal chooses jazz because “there are no rules. You can be original. There’s a sense of history, but you can do your own thing.” She has a great appreciation for the communicative aspect of playing in a jazz group, which is another component of JazzU that she cherishes: her classmates. It is these classmates and fellow musicians with whom she feels the most connected.
Over the spring and summer, Blumenthal spent time passing on the knowledge to three of her own students, who all auditioned for the JazzU program themselves. As she enters this next phase of her academic and musical journey, Blumenthal is most excited about a new way of looking at music and a new way of being challenged. In reflecting upon her time at JazzU, she assures it was the best experience of her high school career by far.
To learn more about how you can support Jazz St. Louis, visit our Support section for details.