Sunday, January 07, 2007

Jazz Education

I'm heading this week to the annual International Association of Jazz Education conference in New York, and was mildly surprised to see an article on the conference in today's New York Times. Jazz education has such a low profile that among the major jazz magazines only DownBeat pays it any mind.

My focus at the IAJE conference is usually on the industry-track content, but I'm pursuing a couple of education-related articles this week. For one, I'm following five young music students from Winnipeg to record their experiences at the conference and how they integrate their experiences into their own studies. My other assignment is related to an article I'm researching on a joint distance education project between the Manhattan School of Music and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

As Nate Chinen's Times article makes clear, jazz education has grown tremendously in the past couple of decades, and the opportunities for high school graduates have expanded both in scope and geography. These Winnipeg students are among the first enrolled at the University of Manitoba's new jazz program, which is run by bassist Steve Kirby. It wasn't that long ago that kids had to head to either Boston, New York or Texas if they wanted a serious concentration on jazz. It's terrific to see all these new options.

Time—and wireless connections—permitting, I'll be blogging from the IAJE conference later in the week.

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