Timothy Sullivan plays flute as children look on during Jazz for Young People program at Juanita Gardine on March 9, 2017.
For the last two years, the Department of Education has partnered with the United Jazz Foundation to bring Jazz at Lincoln Center's "Jazz for Young People" program to the territory's youngest learners. This year, United Jazz Foundation's Dion Parsons has hit the road again, along with some of his friends, to host the special music program for students in grades K-3.
On Thursday, March 9, Mr. Parsons, along with Timothy Sullivan, a vocalist, saxophonist and flautist with Jazz at Lincoln Center; pianist, Gylchrist Sprauve and bassist, Clifton Finch held two mini-concerts for students at Juanita Gardine Elementary School. There, the professional musicians introduced the young students to the wonders of jazz music.
"One of our objectives is to share with the students what jazz is," began Mr. Parsons. "We are enriching the kids, introducing them to jazz, and getting them involved with local improvisation, scat singing, and body movement. We are helping them move and interact with each other. We are using music as a tool to invigorate the students and give them an opportunity to learn."
Mr. Parsons went on to say that he believes having access to music education is the right of every child.
"We feel that music and music education is a right for these children to have and be able to experience," he said. "It’s something that should be available for all students. The fact that we can share with them the different types of music and the different genres of music at an early age, really allows students to think about opportunities moving forward."
In addition to Juanita Gardine, the Jazz for Young People program was presented in March at Claude O. Markoe Elementary and Eulalie Rivera Elementary on St. Croix, as well as E. Benjamin Oliver and Ulla F. Muller Elementary on St. Thomas, and Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John.
"We’re very excited to be performing for these children at these schools," Mr. Parsons said. "The feedback and response of the students have been phenomenal. When the kids leave the auditorium, they leave singing the songs and reminiscing on the things they have heard. It’s been a joy to bring Jazz for Young People program, and watch the kids get involved with it and lose themselves in the rhythm having a good time."
Jazz at Lincoln Center was founded by world-renowned trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis close to 30 years ago.