SAN DIEGO, October 4, 2014 -- SoCal Jazz Society is facing the kind of problem every business wants - a steady increase in demand for their unique classroom jazz appreciation program offered to elementary, middle and high schoolers. The steady growth in popularity of their programs has left them looking for more funding to pay for all the classrooms requesting jazz in the classroom. So, in addition to their annual fundraising concert, the jazz enthusiasts have added online crowd funding and asking for support.
At its core, SoCal Jazz Society is devoted to increasing the interest, understanding, and enjoyment of American jazz music. The Society provides in-school classes, master classes, and private jazz music education, as well as concerts and the promotion of jazz events around the county. The core focus is to bring jazz curricula and local jazz performers to the kids in their classrooms.
Last year, SoCal Jazz doubled the number of classrooms, saw a surge in individual donations, and enjoyed strong support from community groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary, the Clairemont Mesa Education Foundation, Jazz radio station KSDS, and the Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA) at San Diego Unified Schools. Society President, Mark Nicholson, whose daytime job is Music Supervisor of the Visual and Performing Arts Department of San Diego Unified, is optimistic the fast growth is sustainable.
"Our programs aren't about learning to play music, they are about history, culture and invention," states Nicholson. "Because of this, support from the business community is starting to pick up." After members toured Taylor Guitars, the company donated a new guitar to be auctioned off at the Society's October 19th fundraising event and jazz concert at Pioneer Ocean View UCC, 2550 Fairfield Street, San Diego, 6-8pm, with a VIP reception at 5pm.
Ella, Satchmo, Fats, The Duke, Billie and Bessie – they all become part of the kids’ lives in just a few weeks. They soak it up like sponges, thirsting for culture. They get a peek into American history and follow the progression of Jazz music from New Orleans to Chicago to New York. What’s special about jazz in America is that it is a microcosm of democracy, a musical expression of the individual within a larger group. Every voice is heard. For students, that’s an exciting idea, and it shows.
"When I see a fourth grader dancing around the classroom to jazz greats like Cab Calloway, it reminds me that it’s not about playing music as much as appreciation and participation. That’s what SoCal Jazz does for kids,” states founder and executive director of the non-profit, Mary Talbot. Talbot realized that jazz music is more widely enjoyed once people have the opportunity to understand the musical “conversation” that is jazz. Given a few lessons on the fundamentals, most people appreciate and enjoy jazz music, especially at the elementary and secondary school levels. SoCal Jazz Society was created to open those doors.
SoCal Jazz Society is inviting people who believe in the mission to contribute financially or to volunteer on the board. While the Society is supported through grants, it is really jazz lovers themselves that make it work. At a cost of $1000 per 12-week jazz program, their fundraising goal is a modest $24,000 even as the enjoyment by the kids is priceless. Talbot calls it an excellent return on investment if happiness is the bottom line.