“We embrace the infinite possibilities of using jazz to tell stories which are important to children,” says Eli Yamin. “As a dynamic, engaging and challenging platform for creativity, jazz provides us with a forum for new directions in theatre for young people and an educational framework rooted firmly in America’s most influential indigenous art form. Jazz grew out of the African American experience and has become a universal language celebrated worldwide. The Jazz Drama Program provides an opportunity for children to experience for themselves the joy and richness of jazz. Each new show is suitable for young people to perform and yet maintains the integrity of being ‘real music.’”
The Jazz Drama Program (JDP) has created a dynamic, groundbreaking learning platform that can reveal the importance of jazz in American life on a totally new level. Though the JDP believes that telling the stories of great jazz musicians is important, the JDP has learned that there is a much better way to reach young people with the subject of jazz. The relevance of the story being told provides intrinsic motivation to students and facilitates an exceptionally accelerated learning environment. The JDP experiential method enables students to own the essential ingredients of jazz in the context of the stories they are telling.
Teaching Artists guide students in making the swing and shuffle beats their own in a spirit of fun and collaboration. The notion of improvisation becomes an unstoppable learning tool, which can be used both in music, theatre and every day life. Historical dances such as swing and the cakewalk, become visceral learning experiences with clear connections to American History. Practicing diction in the context of singing a bebop line with many syllables and a driving rhythmic framework challenges students both physically and mentally to expand their view of their own abilities cognitively, creatively and in terms of self confidence.