June 2022 — This month, the entertaining and informative Francene Marie Show sat down with Lonnie Davis to talk about the importance of jazz, education, and the upcoming JazzArts Music Camp. Some highlights of their discussion:
Francene Marie (FM): What do young people need to know about jazz?
Lonnie Davis (LD): A lot of young people may not realize what jazz can do for them as a musician. If you can play jazz you can really play anything. I think it’s certainly important to study classical, to gain the technique to and things required to be proficient on your instrument. Once you have that foundation, and start to play jazz, the sky is the limit.
I think it’s important to expose children to jazz early as it opens so many doors of imagination and creativity. It establishes a level of confidence, teamwork, socialization and all the things that go along with jazz. Jazz establishes a well-rounded student. That’s why education is so important to JazzArts Charlotte. We are trying to develop the next level of leaders in communities, wherever those students end up, we want them to be global citizens and contribute in any way, and I think the music lays the foundation for that.
FM: The research shows it open up different portals in the brain.
LD: Absolutely. Jazz music specifically uses more parts of the brain than any other style because there is that analytic side but also the free creative side that classical may not have as they are reading music off the page. With Jazz, possibilities are endless. You can literally play what’s in your head. Your own internal voice can be expressed through the instrument.
FM: You have student alumni who have gone on to do great things.
LD: We are so proud of our students, many now professional musicians: teaching music and jazz in NY; studying at Harvard, Berkley, Julliard, Manhattan School of Music. We also have students who don’t pursue music as their career, but are in law school or engineers or teachers of music therapy. We are proud of students because we know the small or large contribution that we make in the learning journey help them to become what they are today. That’s what it’s about for us. Not about creating the next big jazz musician, although that would be great and is part of it, but we also want to create strong leaders and strong individuals contributing to society in their own way.
FM: When you say access to music for everyone, you mean it.
LD: Yes. Our new Nuestro Tiempo (Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble) is a free program. There are no barriers to participating. JazzArts Music Camp is tuition-based, but we have a number of sponsors and scholarships available, so if financials are a challenge, we make sure it is not a barrier.
Listen here for the full interview, to enjoy more about camp details, where the camp curriculum comes from, and a little history on jazz and on JazzArts Charlotte’s leaders Lonnie and Ocie Davis.