Helping young jazz students hit right notes

Jazz Academy students performing

Students at the 2011 Chicago Jazz Philharmonic/UIC Jazz Academy perform at Millennium Park. Photo: Joshua Clark/UIC Photo Services (click image for larger file size)

Every summer, the music department comes alive with bright camp T-shirts, jazz riffs and excited voices.

For the fifth year, some of Chicago’s most prominent jazz artists will teach about 150 students in grades 5-12 in the annual Chicago Jazz Philharmonic/UIC Jazz Academy.  The day camp will be July 15 through 26, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Education, Performing Arts and Social Work building.

Jazz Academy students learn from UIC faculty and Jazz Philharmonic musicians who perform 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, clinical associate professor of jazz studies and founding director of the Jazz Philharmonic.

The students play in various ensembles, including big band, combos, strings, drum line and hand chimes, to develop diversified performance skills. Additional 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 Jazz Philharomic, 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.

Some students return to the camp year after year. Some have no experience playing music, while others are advanced.

“The CJP/UIC Jazz Academy helps resolve three critical issues: the lack of music education in schools, the need for underserved children to take an interest in higher education, and the need to preserve jazz for the next generation,” Davis says.

“They also 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.

Tuition ranges from $175 to $275, including coursework, materials, recreational activities and daily lunch. Full and partial scholarships are available.


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