“Jazz music is our gift from America to the world,” musician Tony Gulizia told an audience of fifth graders at Niwot Elementary School during an assembly on January 27, which was sponsored by the Niwot-based Colorado Jazz Group.
Primarily known for organizing Niwot’s Jazz on Second Avenue festival, Colorado Jazz Group, the non-profit jazz advocacy organization, has launched a new partnership with the award-winning Vail Colorado based Jazz Goes to School program to bring jazz education to front range elementary schools.
“We want to reach as many young musicians as possible to introduce them to this vibrant musical community,” said Mia Kuehn, marketing and operations director for the Colorado Jazz Group. “The goal is to impact the youth before they have to pick instruments to help keep jazz alive,” added production manager Rachel Cohen.
During the assembly, which is the first in a two-part series, five professional jazz musicians from Jazz Goes to School, led by Gulizia, performed a jazz quintet number and then took turns teaching students about the instrument they played. With familiar tunes like “The Pink Panther” and jokes like, “You can tune a bass violin, but you can’t tune a fish,” delivered by bass player Andy Hall, the quintet kept students laughing while they learned.
“I thought the presentation was absolutely wonderful, and the students and other teachers enjoyed it immensely as well. The group was engaging and entertaining, and played fantastically. The lesson was a great introduction to what makes a jazz ensemble, and how each part plays a role within the group,” Niwot music teacher Abbey Madry said of the performance.
Madry looks forward to connecting the performance to her fifth grade curriculum. “In our curriculum the students have studied a variety of composers from different historical periods, and have learned about all the different instrument families and instruments of the orchestra. Jazz studies give them an important connection to twentieth-century music and a style that’s rooted in American music.”
In addition to the assembly on Friday, the musicians from Jazz Goes to School performed live music for a happy hour and question and answer session on Thursday, January 26, at Treppeda’s Ristorante as a way to connect with the Niwot community.
Along with Niwot Elementary, Jazz Goes to Schools also visited Sacred Heart in Boulder and Ryan Elementary in Lafayette. Because of fundraising done during Jazz on Second Avenue this past September, the Colorado Jazz Group was able to provide this opportunity to the schools free of charge.
According to Kuehn, Colorado Jazz Group is thrilled for this opportunity to bring jazz education the front range, as they are dedicated to connecting with the local community. Said Kuehn, “We very much value the input from the community and people are always welcome to reach out to us.” Colorado Jazz Group can be reached at J2a@coloradojazzgroup.org.