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95th Street Elementary learns to play jazz

Jason Lewis ow contributor | 6/9/2016, 10:11 a.m.
Ninety-fifth Street Elementary School’s music program has been jazzed up this year, as the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s “Bach to Bebop” ...

Ninety-fifth Street Elementary School’s music program has been jazzed up this year, as the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s “Bach to Bebop” residency taught students how to compose original blues songs, improvise on the keyboard, analyze song striation structure, and experience some of the finest musicians in the country perform right in their classroom.  

The residency culminated in a school assembly this past Tuesday, where the students premiered their blues songs along with other songs from Duke Ellington and Rodgers & Hammerstein.  Students played instruments along with the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra, and they sang jazz songs. 

This program exposed the students to an art form that used to be extremely popular in that area of Los Angeles, and the program is vital because of the budget cuts that has eliminated many music programs from the school system.

“The event is important to children, especially in the inner city, because we’re so limited in funding for the arts,” Principal Manuel Nava said. “So anytime we’re able to work with an outside organization that will come in and work with our kids and teach them about music, that’s just a win for all of the kids at the school.”

Each week the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra sent an instructor for kindergarten and fourth graders, and they have been working with the kids since January.  At the assembly, the students were able to show the entire school what they had learned.

This program has also had an impact on the student’s overall learning experience.  

“The teachers have commented that in the classroom, when it comes to math, reading the (musical) beats, they’re incorporating that into their learning,” Nava said.