The Wharton Center for Performing Arts asked me to write a blog post for JumpinJazz Kids – A Swinging Jungle Tale. Some of the reasons I’m sure is because I coordinate a jazz festival, and I am a jazz musician. Although this may qualify me to comment on the high-quality of the musical composition and the great genius of the performers involved, there is another more important role that I play that lends a higher level of expertise to this blog post….I’m a Daddy.
I have two of the cutest, smartest and overall most wonderful little boys ever, and SURPRISE…they LOVE music!
Much like their Daddy they have discriminating musical tastes. When my 4-year old asks me to put on some “jams” for our weekly dance party, not just any music will do. As I began researching this program I saw that it received a Grammy nomination for Best Children’s Album, but it was the names of the performers involved (Dee Dee Bridgewater, Al Jarreau, Hubert Laws,…), that led me to conclude that “the boys” would approve.
At first glance I understood why the creators of JumpinJazz Kids went with the jungle theme. Kids love jungle animals and this would certainly be intriguing to kids. Then I dug a little deeper and my interest was piqued by what appeared to be the mission statement. “..our number one goal is for kids (and families!) to say “Imagination Is Me!”. The writers then go on to explain that this is accomplished by engaging the audiences creativity, dance moves and encouraging “active” listening. This means that the characters on the stage will seem to be speaking directly to your child. They will ask their opinions and encourage them to sing and dance. I can’t wait to see what my 2 year-old comes up with when he is asked to dance like an elephant with a trumpet for a trunk!
As a jazz musician and supporter, I know the importance of cultivating future audiences. It is often said that musical genres outside of the popular music you hear on radio, television and the internet have fallen out of favor with younger audiences. Exposure is the only way to develop an ear for something you might not hear every day. So parents! Ensure the future of North America’s greatest musical contribution. Take your kids to a jazz show! I know where you can find one starring a little girl named Clare that has a musical adventure in her grandpa’s backyard jungle.
For more information and to purchase tickets, check out the show page here!
Benjamin Hall is the Coordinator for the Summer Solstice Jazz Festival here in East Lansing.