“There is a lot of things to focus on. The question is where do you start? We want to make an impact on younger generations to appreciate the creativity and artistry of jazz. This year we are focusing on jazz education with students in the communities the Jazz@8 Series serves,” says Michael Shirtz.
Just finishing his fourth year as associate coordinator for the Jazz Education Network conference and JENerations Jazz Fest, his passion for producing and performing jazz goes beyond his work as an artist, but is deeply rooted in his passion for teaching and introducing this music with students of all ages. As Michael begins developing the new performing arts institute at Lakeside Chautauqua and developing choral and vocal music programming with the Firelands Symphony, he is equally focused on bringing jazz and American music into classrooms in 2019.
The Jazz@8 Series began focusing on student engagement over the last few years with artist visits into schools and presenting pre-show lectures. This year, Michael brings the Jazz@8 Series directly into the classrooms of participating schools where artists will be presenting workshops and masterclasses in jazz, blues, and improvisation. Elementary school children will be working on learning the basics of the blues and writing their own compositions and arrangements that will be presented in March. High school students will have the opportunity to play and sing with artists in masterclasses and clinics.
“We want to create opportunities for students to engage and interact with jazz musicians that inspire them to become the next generation of jazz audience goers, and maybe even become jazz musicians themselves. We know that if people understand the music early on, they make it a lifelong appreciation. Jazz is the foundation for the music that kids are listening to today. So, let’s help them make those connections and build their interest in America’s great musical art form,”
Artists that will be participating in the Jazz@8 educational initiatives and school visits include Michael Shirtz (vocal/composition), Reggie Jackson (drummer), Doug Neel (guitar/trombone), Dwight Bailey (bass), Danny Bauer (piano), Jackie Warren (piano), Matt Adams (saxophone), George Michael (saxophone), Toni Bonardi (piano), Jeff Bass (bass) and Charles Saenz (trumpet).
Thank you to Bignoli Enterprises for sponsoring the Jazz@8 educational initiatives and helping bring jazz education to younger generations.
(Photo by Frances Scanlon: Shirtz talking to fellow jazz educators in Dallas,TX.)