Gretchen Crouse, Mount Union elementary band director, is doing what she can to jazz up the lives of her students.
The “Let Freedom Swing!” program from Jazz at Lincoln Center, based in New York City, visited fourth through eighth grade concert and jazz band students Feb. 4.
This program gives an informational and interactive presentation to students about jazz music and well-known jazz artists. During the presentation, six affiliated musicians from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra performed on a variety of instruments. These included Oliver Beardsley on the drum set, Bria Skonberg on trumpet, Noah Garabedian on bass, Braxton Cook on saxophone, Mike Nishimura on piano and Justin Poindexter on guitar. The presentation was led by Jake Blasini, associate of educational and community programs for Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Throughout the concert, students were able to participate and interact with the musicians in multiple ways. The musicians asked many questions and encouraged the students to join the group on stage. These interactions provided an enjoyable and energy-filled presentation to students as well as valuable information on the jazz genre.
This was the first year that Jazz at Lincoln Center has ever been to the MU, but hopefully not the last. Crouse commented, “I would love for them to come every year! Hearing that level of musician is always a treat! I always enjoy having people come in to work with the students. These performers started off no different than our students. They all started in 4th and 5th grade band.”
Crouse hopes that she has ignited an interest in her students through this experience. “After the show the drummer mentioned a story to me that he got into drumming after seeing a similar type performance at his elementary school. I thought that was poignant because we never know what may inspire a student, we just have to keep exposing our students to new experiences to help them find that inspiration.”