Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


Jazz Camp!

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Since moving to Winnipeg in 2002, I have participated in the annual University of Manitoba Summer Jazz Camp almost every year. (At my first Jazz Camp, I played in an ensemble with Chris Butcher and Curtis Nowosad, and I met Amber Epp and Heitha Forsyth. Need I say more? ) I’ve attended as a student, a music educator, a volunteer and a parent, and each year is more inspiring than the last!

The one constant is the remarkable level of talent that is recruited each year to be on the faculty. Whether they are local or from afar, the world-class instructors have always been approachable and supportive of the students at the jazz camp. I am always amazed to hear the poignant questions asked by eager adolescents as they try to learn the art of communicating in the new language they are acquiring. When they grasp an idea and incorporate it into their solos at the noon-hour jam session, it always makes me smile.

As a parent of a young musician, I can happily report that the Summer Jazz Camp has provided my son with lifelong friends and connections that span the globe. At 10, he learned to play “Blue Bossa” on the piano and played in an ensemble comprised of 15- to 17-year-olds. They provided the mentorship that he, at 17, is now bestowing on the next generation of young jazz musicians. Today I watch with pride as he offers advice to younger musicians or when he has the opportunity to play bass with the jazz faculty at the Wednesday Night Hang. In September, he will begin his first year of the Bachelor of Jazz Studies Program at the U of M. This could not have happened without the supportive learning environment created at Jazz Camp.

I have also had the pleasure of meeting brave adults who attend the camp. Perhaps, like me, they did not get the chance in high school to participate in a jazz program or perhaps they sat on the sidelines. Or perhaps they did play and they hunger to get their creative mojo flowing again. There is a place at Jazz Camp for every musician. I still remember the wonderful Maureen from Saskatchewan—her incredible voice brought me to tears every time she sang. What a talent!

In my role as a music and second language educator, the Jazz Camp has consistently provided me with new ideas to bring to my classroom. From headliners such as Stefon Harris, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup and Gary Smulyan, I have acquired knowledge that enables me to teach the art of communication without words and to ease the stress students feel when they are trying to say something but they lack the vocabulary to express themselves.

Who should attend the U of M’s Summer Jazz Camp? Everyone! So what are you waiting for?

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