Most kids think of jazz as “old-people music,” if they think of it at all. Thanks to Artists-in-Schools, the students at Willow Oak and Bonlee School learned there’s a lot more to it!
Grammy-nominated jazz bassist John Brown and his quartet treated kids at both schools to a private concert. Believe us when we tell you, there was a lot of dancing in seats. Some kids even seemed surprised that they couldn’t help moving to the music.
Some lucky fifth-graders at Bonlee also go to sit in on a couple of workshops with the band. Grammy nomination or not, John got right in there with the kids–asking them for examples of their favorite songs. He’d pull up the song on his phone, let everyone listen to a little bit of it, and then have all the guys in the band fiddle around a bit with playing the song to see if they could figure out what the roots were. And every single song had its roots in jazz.
This student even got to test drive the drums, just to see if they fit. Mask, or no mask, that smile is unmistakeable.
In sixth grade, kids at Bonlee have the opportunity to take band for the first time at school with past Chatham County Schools Teacher of the Year, David Clark. When the band asked for a show of hands at the end, almost every hand went up. All the kids were interested in band after spending a few hours with the very cool, very smart, very talented John Brown Quartet.
How Do We Make It Happen?
The Chatham Arts Council could not bring professional artists like the John Brown Band into Chatham County schools without the dollars to make it possible. The performance at Willow Oak was powered by the Willow Oak Montessori PTA and an anonymous community supporter. The residency at Bonlee School was powered by Dorrie Casey & Archie Purcell. Our partners at Chatham County Schools, Chatham County, and the North Carolina Arts Council also make this important work happen.
Individual gifts are absolutely critical, too. We’re working to expand the Chatham Artists-in-Schools Initiative with a goal of being in every single school in Chatham County, every single year, by 2025. Click here to be part of this artistic endeavor–and all our Arts for Resilient Kids efforts.
If you need more inspiration, here’s Siler City Elementary Principal Tania Poston speaking with WRAL about the importance of our Artists-in-Schools Initiative. Enjoy!