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More than a music camp

July 2019 ––  “We have five days to turn on the light bulb and get these students excited about jazz,” quipped Camp instructor, Dr. Michael Hackett.

Months of preparation go into the JazzArts Summer Music Camp, and everyone from behind the scenes, to the instructors and nearly 50 students were excited to delve into this jam-packed week of music training. Camp is all about two values: building skills and building relationships. The students who join the camp are between grades 7th to 12th, all with a variety of music experience. Like sponges, they absorb every moment at the camp, whether it’s in theory and ear training, jazz history, or discovering how to have fun improvising at the Jam Sessions.

Over half the students were new, so it offered the opportunity for students to experience the difference of jazz music, America’s original art form. The skills in jazz mimic the skills in life, like confidence, teamwork, and creativity.

Because jazz is a musical expression of the culture of its time, learning jazz history is intrinsically learning America’s history. Playing in a jazz group with other musician students was a way to interact with peers with the same passion for music. The camp is a welcoming space where students get to open the door to new passions, get out of their comfort zones and try something new, and develop lasting friendships through their mutual interest. Giving students a taste of Jazz in this one week is something we hope they hold onto forever.

Armando Chardiet, a rising Junior at Charlotte Country Day, was a new student to JazzArts Charlotte with several years classical music training on the french horn. Armando says this summer music camp allowed him to “get out of my comfort zone and think on my feet.” He enjoyed the challenge of “music theory and complex chord progressions,” and his favorite part was “playing together in their small ensembles.” We assume we’ll see Armando again.

Olivia Ratliff, Rock Hill High School sophomore, is a returning student, dedicated to her electric and upright bass. Though Olivia has listened to jazz her whole life, she says this camp gives her the chance to take her music skills to the next level. “I see people in my group, and I know they will be something good someday. I am inspired to be around the talent.” The students in camp are always supportive of others, and those relationships are what makes the week great. Olivia said, “I made friends in my first experience with JazzArts Camp, and even though they are far away, they continue to be my good friends. It is also great knowing more great musicians my age.”

The students enjoyed a masterclass and individual group instruction by one of Jazz’s finest saxophonists, Steve Wilson. Wilson, this year’s camp clinician and special performer for the June JAZZ ROOM, is a music professional on faculty at the Juilliard School with over 150 recordings under his belt. Wilson brought life into the room with his interactive style and infectious passion for the music. After lessons on the importance of fundamentals and the freedom of improvisation, his final message extended beyond the music: “You can’t always plan, but you can prepare. All through our young adult years, we spend much time developing life skills. Jazz is the same way. It prepares you for being in the unexpected moment, and this is the gift jazz gives you.”

At the end of an intense week, family and friends were thrilled with the student’s Saturday concert. “In the end, they have come a long, long way in just these five days!” says Dr. Hackett. JazzArts Charlotte was excited to showcase the energy of a new group of students with an excitement for their new skills.

They say that if you do what you are passionate about you will never have to work a day in your life. At the end of a week, our goal was to introduce life skills, and perhaps even the future of jazz.

Visit the JazzArts Charlotte Facebook photo album to see images of a week full of music.

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