This year’s Jazz Power Institute (former Summer Jazz Arts Institute) was full of great energy and creativity. In our two days at Lehman College in the Bronx, we covered Jazz History, methods for teaching Jazz, Swing, Blues, Jazz dance, healthy singing, songwriting, Improvisation, and so much more. There was a wealth of experience and diversity at the institute.
Our theme was liberation. We explored the idea of freedom which is something innate to Jazz. Participants were taken on a journey where they were also introduced to methods we use at JPI called Jazz Power Tools. We shared with them the type of work we do in our Youth Programs, Senior Programs and our Intergenerational Jazz Jam Sessions.
Shireen Dickson took us on a journey through the history of dance, its evolution and key players through her lecture on The Roots of JPI Dance. Participants learned some choreography and did a variation of rhythmic exercises. Both days, she led a physical warm up and Eli Yamin led our vocal warm up. Tom Dempsey and Antoinette Montague co-led an amazing activity on THE BLUES in which we formed groups and created our own blues. Brian Fender and Eli designed a Jazz Timeline in which we walked participants through Jazz History and some of its most essential players.
We were honored to have Author/ Musician James McBride join us once again. He asked “how can you create structure out of your liberation so you can be free?”. We talked about the idea of a liberated artist and then he had us compose an anthem on a theme in groups. There was no shortage of creativity. Mr. McBride is a powerhouse master teacher who really makes you dig deeper into telling a story in a compelling way. “When you add it all up, the sum of your life is what you paid attention to”.
We were also joined by Sweet Honey in The Rock co-founders and members Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson, who led an amazing body and vocal warm up which progressed into a ring shout and some very soulful singing. We had the opportunity to learn more about their poetic exercise “I Come From”. They also taught us the spiritual “I’m Gonna Stay on The Battlefield” and South African Folk song “Somagwaza”.
We hope you join us for next summer’s Institute.