Jazz Kids

Children will have a lot of options to learn about jazz and music in general while having some fun at the Healdsburg Jazz campus.

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival will bring it home from May 31 to June 9.

The festival will feature daily performances of some of the genre’s top acts, as well as immersive activities for both the novice and seasoned jazz enthusiast.

During the weekdays of the festival, there will be a Jazz Campus set up. The campus will be at West Plaza Park downtown.

“Jazz Village Campus programs are offered free of charge to all schools in Healdsburg and Geyserville, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, and provide additional resources to engage parents and prepare students for future concerts, school assemblies and music-making activities. Some classes will be bilingual, but music is a universal language that involves and inspires students at many levels. Each day there will be five to six programs that schools can choose from,” a release from the festival states.

Founder and Artistic Director Jessica Felix and Executive Director Gina Riner shared why the inclusion of a campus was important to the cultural event.

“There are all these children’s projects,” Felix said. “It was built to be more inclusive of the community and all diversity of race and age and gender.”

Felix said that it has been difficult to reach across the musical spectrum to the Latino community that hails from Mexico. The cultural differences in popular music can be a large divide, which she said she hopes the environment of the campus can help narrow. There will be three Latin-style jazz bands to help create that bridge.

She said, however, that there have been some great music education programs in schools to expose kids from all backgrounds to jazz.

The concept of inclusivity is paramount to the Jazz Festival, Riner said.

“Jazz education and education is always important. It’s the great leveler; it’s democratic,” she said.

That inclusivity stretches out to the adult sphere, from the wine aficionado to the homeless community.

“It’s like setting up a party and telling everyone in town they’re invited,” Riner said. “The values of jazz are respect and civility, and this is the stage we want to set.”

This year, there is a bigger budget, which means more events and a larger scope.

“What’s most important is it’s free for our community to come and experience music together and create and learn,” Felix said.

Activities include a rhythm section, where students can learn basic music theory and why music provokes emotion; a music and literacy area, where students can learn how to manipulate the spoken word and learn to “speak jazz”; and a percussion song and dance workshop.

“One of our music education programs is bucket drumming,” Riner said.

Students will be able to make their own music using five-gallon paint containers and different items for drum sticks, showing students they don’t have to be able to buy an expensive instrument to make great-sounding music.

“These workshops address the California Content Standards in music and other academic subject areas such as history, social studies and literacy,” according to the release.

Organizers expect around 1,500 children will attend these festival events.

One of the challenges for the expanding festival and village is getting the word out, Felix said. There has been a canvassing effort throughout town, which included a lot of walking to reach neighbors.

Riner said that outreach efforts have also been inclusive, with flyers handed out in both Spanish and English, with Spanish-speakers pounding pavement with Riner to help explain what all is available.

For a list of acts during the festival, visit healdsburgjazzfestival.org.

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