The Joy of Teaching and Singing Jazz
This summer I had the great privilege to run the Summer Vocal Jazz Day Camp at the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy in July!
What an amazing opportunity to work with musical and talented 8-12 year olds! They deserve a lot of credit for staying pretty well focused while spending seven hours a day for one week listening, doing, learning, watching and doing some more.
The first day I taught them “Autumn Leaves” and we listened to great scat artists like Louis Armstrong and Leo Watson (among many others as the week progressed), then call and response conversations, and we worked on making up our own solos. By the end of the day they had memorized “Autumn Leaves” and each one took a solo!! It was fantastic!
And it just got better everyday. It was challenging there’s no question. I was exhausted everyday. And I was lucky to have a wonderful assistant, Asia, who took the kids to a park each day for lunch while I prepared for the rest of the day, sat down and ate my lunch.
By day four the kids told their own improvised stories over a 12 bar major and minor blues and I’m telling you it was simply magical! A few kids rhymed each line which sent us into peals of laughter and joy! Some spoke their story and it was great! Each day they became more and more brave when it was their turn to scat.
These wonderful and complex children taught me so much on many different levels. The end of the week culminated in a performance with piano, bass and drums. For their parents to see them on the band stand with complete confidence count off their songs and then nail the tunes was so rewarding. Many happy tears were shed by parents and instructor alike.
The line up of songs was “Autumn Leaves” (Group), “Lullably of Birdland”, “Quiet Nights”, “Four”, “Centerpiece”, “Blue Skies” and “All The Things You Are” (Group. With alt. lyrics by Red Mitchell which Nancy King sang to me to teach the kids!!).
I am so so so so so proud of each student for their accomplishments! Youth empowered through jazz!!
Thank you to BYCA for this amazing experience! Looking forward to many more!!