Vail Jazz Goes to School returns with a sweet reward in store

Vail Jazz Goes to School, Vail Jazz’s music education program for fourth- and fifth-graders, returns to schools in Eagle County starting today. This third session brings a trio of professional musicians and educators into 15 local schools to share their love of jazz and American history, and to inspire young people to embrace America’s own art form, whether as spectators or musicians.

Musician and educator Tony Gulizia leads the program.

“When the kids get to use their own hands to play an instrument as they do in this session, the beauty of the music really comes alive for them. They understand how it works and why improvisation is at the heart of all jazz music,” Gulizia said.

Two jazz educators — Gulizia’s brother, Joey, drums, and Andy Hall, bass — join him in this session as they introduce the blues scale and other techniques used in improvisation. Students are taught the notes of the blues scale and musical concepts such as dissonance and syncopation. With this foundation, the older students then get a chance to try their hand at creating their own jazz by writing 12-bar blues compositions, with lyrics put to a blues beat.

At the final concert on May 10 and 11 at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, a selection of fifth-grade students’ blues compositions will be presented in medley. New this year, one group of students will be awarded for having the best lyrics at each of the three final concerts, thanks to support from Sugar Bar. The Vail Daily will also recognize winning lyrics by publishing them in the newspaper.

“Most kids would never be exposed to jazz, much less understand its development and relevance to American history, without this program,” said Dawn Vallejos, music teacher at Eagle Valley and Edwards elementary schools.

The program provides music teachers with a comprehensive curriculum, pre- and post-visit lesson plans and follow-up activities that complement the three sessions with the musicians in the classroom.

Vail Jazz Goes to School, now in its 16th year, supports and promotes jazz with a focus on educating young audiences. Jazz Goes to School is presented by Vail Jazz to Eagle County fourth- and fifth-graders at all public schools and Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Elementary School and St. Clare of Assisi Catholic School.

Vail Jazz Goes to School will reach more than 1,100 Eagle County students this school year and has exposed more than 17,000 students to this unique American art form since its inception.