Chicago jazz stars teach kids in UIC jazz camp

For one week each summer, the University of Illinois at Chicago comes alive with jazz riffs, colorful camp T-shirts, and excited chatter.

Some of Chicago’s most prominent jazz artists will teach more than 150 students in grades 5-12 in the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic/UIC Jazz Academy.  Now in its fifth year, the day camp will be July 15-26, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UIC’s Department of Theatre and Music, 1040 W. Harrison St.

Jazz Academy students learn from UIC faculty and Chicago Jazz Philharmonic musicians who perform and record around the world. Musicians like drummer Ernie Adams, bassist Stewart Miller, and saxophonists Ari Brown and Diane Ellis teach under the leadership of Emmy-winning composer and jazz trumpeter Orbert Davis, UIC clinical associate professor and founding director of the CJP.

The students play in various ensembles, including big band, combos, strings, drum line, and hand chimes, according to their skill levels and to diversify their performance skills. Elective courses familiarize them with jazz aesthetics, jazz history, music theory, instrument technique, and improvisation.

Visits by performing groups allow students to see professional musicians in action. Performers will include the CJP, the Chicago Catz, and others performing blues, jazz vocals and big-band music.

The camp allows students to imagine what college is like. Camp counselors lead campus tours, introduce recreational activities like slam poetry, capoeira, and scat singing, and hold discussions about college preparation.

Students range from beginners to advanced. Some return to the camp year after year.

“The Jazz Academy helps resolve three critical issues: the lack of music education in schools, the need to preserve jazz for the next generation, and the need for underserved children to take an interest in higher education,” Davis says. “Our students learn life skills like goal setting, time management, teamwork, communication, and positive interaction with their peers.”

To serve as many talented students as possible, tuition is among the lowest for jazz camps in the Chicago area. It ranges from $175 to $275, including coursework, materials, activities and daily lunch.

Full and partial scholarships are available for a limited time. Registration closes June 14.

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