Keeping Jazz Alive in Schools

In 2015, KRTU launched a new pilot of its Growing Jazz initiative, which brings experienced jazz musicians into schools for workshops, mentoring, and inspiration.

Designed to cultivate an appreciation for and improve accessibility to jazz music for youth of all ages, KRTU's Growing Jazz initiative concludes its 2016 activities this week after reaching hundreds of area students at Boerne, Bradley, Irving, J.L. Matthey, John B. Connally and Kingsborough Middle School. The initiative is sponsored in part by Twang Partners, Ltd., with support from KRTU listeners.

Led by Bill King (saxophone), area artists Walter White (drums), Douglas Bennett (bass), Mark Little (piano), Jacqueline Sotelo (vocals) and Al Gomez (trumpet) shared their time, talent and knowledge with students through performance and workshops this spring.

The Growing Jazz iniative is just one of the ways in which KRTU aims to improve accessibility of jazz and cultivate a rich cultural community in the San Antonio region. For participants, Growing Jazz provides an opporunity to learn about this artform in a way not currently available through traditional curricula or public entertainment programming.

The program allows students from diverse economic and social backgrounds to learn about, experience and create the jazz, a genre critically important to modern and historic music arts, yet underserved (and often ignored) in public schools and popular entertainment. Growing Jazz’s hands-on, one-of-a-kind educational opportunities exemplify KRTU's dedication to enriching and engaging the next generation of jazz musicians, jazz fans and arts patrons.

Bobby Baiza, Jr., Assistant Band Director at John B. Connally Middle School, shares how the Growing Jazz initiative enhances a school's music programming: "Experiencing live music is extremely important for our student's education. Many of our students do not get experiences like this at their age."

left to right: Walter White (drums), Douglas Bennett (bass), Mark Little (piano), Jacqueline Sotelo (vocals), Al Gomez (trumpet), 
Bill King (saxophone)

Greg Garcia, Band Director at J.L. Matthey Middle School, talks about the impact of Growing Jazz on his students: “We had 100 students attend the concert and they truly enjoyed it! For some, it was the first time listening to jazz music. I received several comments afterwards from non-band students expressing their enjoyment. Students in the jazz ensemble program were fired up afterwards.

"The clinic that Bill King [led with the other musicians] made a significant impression... I cannot get them to stop practicing improvisation, nor do I want to! The musicians were outstanding, demonstrated a high standard of performance for the students, and offered a sincere educational experience towards the students. I would wish that performances/clinics of this kind [were] offered throughout the school year."

Wednesday, June 1, 2016