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Students Learn the Art of Improvisation and Much More
Posted 2/23/23

Last week, six district schools welcomed JazzReach, a non-profit organization located in New York City dedicated to the promotion, performance, creation, and teaching of jazz music, to NVUSD elementary, middle,  and high schools. Over three days, four Jazz Reach musicians introduced students at Shearer TK-8, Browns Valley TK-8, and American Canyon Middle School (ACMS) to the jazz genre and also taught clinics for the jazz bands at American Canyon, Napa, and Vintage High Schools. 

Introduction to Jazz

The elementary school program focused on the basics of jazz. An ensemble including a saxophone, keyboard, bass, and drums began with a one-song performance. Prior to playing, students were asked to participate by carefully observing each musician and their collaboration as an ensemble. 

After each performance, students enthusiastically raised their hands, and with a little guidance, identified the three key musical elements of every song: rhythm, melody, and harmony.

To wrap up the experience, students expressed their own creativity using their voices to participate in a call and response exercise led by the saxophone that left miles on the students' faces. Jazz Reach specifically visited the ACMS 6th grade band class and after reviewing a few keynotes, invited them to participate in a call and response exercise with their instruments. 

The Clinic

Working with the American Canyon High School (ACHS), Napa High School (NHS), and Vintage High School (VHS)  Jazz Bands, the JazzReach ensemble underscored the same themes of collaboration and improvisation. The professional musicians played with the students–modeling how to make eye contact, listen, and improvise–followed by opportunities for the students to practice. After listening to each band play their selected songs,  each member of the JazzReach ensemble gave individualized and group feedback meeting each band where they were in their learning. 

We invite you to enjoy the following pictures and sounds captured over the three days.