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Into the Music

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Since mid-January, Steve Kirby and Curtis Nowosad and I have made music with a crew of keen students at Hugh John MacDonald Junior High. After school a couple of afternoons a week, Curtis puts a bunch of eager drummers through their paces on the three drum kits, Steve inspires young bass players just outside the noise zone, I encourage a cluster of wannabe pianists to get comfortable at the keyboard, and a knot of guitar players work on their chording. Then we all get together and bash through the blues and a few songs the kids know. It’s not always pretty, but it’s real music-making, and we all leave feeling energized and satisfied.

On several occasions, senior students from the jazz pedagogy course brought their skills and energy (and instruments) to these gatherings. They worked hard and they played hard, and the young musicians responded in kind. On one of these afternoons, I sat with Rhona Churman, the school’s Vice Principal. She was moved by the patience and warmth of the mentoring students, and so proud of her charges as they soaked up the information and attention, and spread their wings.

We’ll be part of that school community until the end of June—and some of those young musicians will be invited to perform with the Jazz on Wheels band this summer. This is The Bridge Program in action. It has been a remarkable experience for all of us—and this is just the beginning…

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