Jazz in the Schools introduces students to jazz through interactive presentations and hands-on activities designed to demonstrate the influence and importance of jazz on American culture, while creating relationships and building connections between the students and the greater Portland Jazz and business community. During the 2016 school year, over 1,000 Portland Public School students of all ages learned about jazz music’s most important contributors, listened to essential recordings, and subsequently found inspiration for creating their own original art — many of which were displayed in US Bank branches during the PDX Jazz Festival. Generously sponsored by US Bank, Jazz in the Schools will be presented to many more students during the 2017 school year.
Jazz in the Schools – a free educational program designed for public schools of all age groups — communicates the historical benchmarks of jazz to the younger generation. Emphasis is not placed on the student as a performer, but rather on the understanding of this musical art from historical, cultural and artistic perspectives. PDX Jazz views this program as increasing opportunities for students in three different areas:
- By providing a “hands on” opportunity for appreciation of an important American artistic discipline
- By making available an entertaining and intellectual arts program in the face of otherwise dwindling access
- By creating opportunities of understanding and appreciating the important contributions made by African American artists to American civilization.
During the classroom presentation, students discover how the visual art associated with jazz was influenced by the music, and how it played an important role in shaping the culture and events of 20th Century America. Following the presentation, students create their own original art, interpreting the music and culture of jazz by utilizing their newfound understanding of the connection between the music and art.
Because of the improvisational nature of jazz, which is stressed during the presentation, students are taught that inspiration for their work can be found from anywhere they imagine this art and jazz connection to take place, and that it can be expressed in the artistic medium taught within the classroom.
Class visits are made by the Jazz in the Schools instructor, providing guidance as needed to students throughout the duration of the project. The most outstanding entrants, as chosen by a panel of educators, artists and musicians, are then displayed in storefront windows throughout downtown Portland. The 2016 program, generously sponsored by US Bank, will appear in a variety of US Bank branches in the metropolitan Portland area.
Visit the PDX Jazz Flickr page to see the art from participating schools.