Feb 11, 2010

Skipping school for the Columbus Jazz Orchestra

There was a great article recently in ThisWeek about the Columbus Jazz Orchestra's educational outreach programs. Numerous schools in central Ohio take field trips to CJO concerts, and these aren't the kind of concerts where you sit quietly with your butt in the seat...

Resources are provided through the "All that Jazz" program for teachers to use in the classroom ahead of time. Then on concert day they empty the schools and send everyone downtown for a special concert where the CJO teaches the kids about each instrument and each section of the band, the blues song structure (as you can tell from the picture), and jazz history.

Here are a couple of snippets from the article (published Jan 20, 2010):

All 650 students from Hilliard Tharp Sixth Grade School will take a field trip to the Southern Theatre at noon Friday for an exclusive one-hour concert by the Columbus Jazz Orchestra.

"We've done this annually for at least the last 4-5 years," said Kent Hansher, music teacher at Tharp. "Before it, we have a two-week jazz unit we go over with the students."


"This is an experience to hear a sound that these kids will never hear and to understand the background," Shafer said. "They don't just come here on a field trip to hear a concert of an hour of jazz, they actually participate in it. They're into it, they get it.

"As a result of these concerts, the youth in our audience has grown. The number of young people coming in the past 5 years has increased. Next month, we're doing 88 Columbus City schools and 4,400 kids are coming through. We've had one administrator say to us, 'We left one secretary in the building and brought everybody else.' "

The rest of the article can be found here.

I think jazz is for many educators an intimidating subject to teach, so I'm glad the CJO is there to help pass on the tradition of a little AABA and some improv and show just how FUN jazz is. Maybe some of those students will grow up to be jazz lovers, musicians, or even better... dancers! (selfish me!)

If you'd like to support Columbus' Jazz Arts Group and the Columbus Jazz Orchestra, please check out all the ways to donate your time or your money (or your company's money!). Or hey, attend a concert and tell everyone you know how great it was! Student rush tickets are available at the door before a show (if it isn't sold out) for only $15 for 18 yrs or older, $10 for students under 18. Pretty sweet deal.
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