Every child needs to learn their letters, but starting October 4, your little ones will have the opportunity to begin mastering the ABCs of jazz – and have fun while doing so – with the relaunch of WeBop.
“WeBop is Jazz at Lincoln Center’s award-winning early-childhood jazz education program, and we are one of a very small number of institutions across the country that is certified to teach the curriculum,” explains Patrick Brown, JazzArts Charlotte’s Education Director.
This Fall, JazzArts Charlotte will offer one “Stompers” class for students ages 2-3.5 years and their caregivers. Teaching artist Dawn Anthony, who was with the program before it took a hiatus during COVID, is thrilled to return to a new classroom at the VAPA Center.
“I’m still in touch with several of the families who were part of the initial program and the children are still happily engrossed in music,” says the founder of DNAMuzic. Throughout the program, she watched participants blossom from shy preschoolers clinging to caregivers into toddlers who were eagerly pulling adults into the room and running to engage with the other children and the instruments.
As parents and artists, Dawn and Patrick both have seen the value of early music education. “Early music education promotes creativity,” Patrick notes. “Even at this early age, we are watching their verbal skills emerge and they are not only beginning to think critically but also to listen critically,” Dawn agrees. “They’re listening for the differences and sounds and how that relates to the music that we’re playing. Also just being exposed to the beginnings of collaboration, before going into the classroom and school structure is invaluable.”
What also sets WeBop apart is the active role that caregivers take in the process. While no musical ability is required, the accompanying adult is an active participant. “This is total engagement for both participants – the child and the caregiver,” Dawn emphasizes. The experience of going through the class together gives the child and the parent, grandparent, or caregiver who accompanies them another point of connection. “It becomes their shared thing, which they can then continue to appreciate together,” Dawn notes.
The intimate class size ensure that children get individualized attention and promotes interaction between the students and musicians. Halfway through the eight-week program and again at the end, a full jazz combo comes in, so students get to experience the full sound. “This program is fun because it incorporates songs that the children are familiar with, like nursery rhymes, and incorporates them with jazz rhythms. So there’s a level of comfort but we’re also stretching their ears, stretching their knowledge, and teaching them a little bit about jazz and some of the jazz greats along with building on that familiarity,” Patrick notes.
But perhaps the best thing – other than the sheer fun of playing – is seeing the children and adults “realizing that jazz is not only the music of the past. It’s alive and it’s well and it’s happening right here in Charlotte right now,” Patrick says.