The Burlington Jazz Festival started the weekend of June 4, 2021 in Burlington, VT. I had the opportunity to play previously with the Kurn Hattin Homes Jazz Band at the Jazz Festival on a couple of occasions when my schedule permitted it. It was a lot of fun! The members of the Jazz Band are middle school-aged kids from the children's home, some of whom have only learned to play a musical instrument at Kurn Hattin Homes. The band is supplemented with adult volunteers and/or teaching staff. I was a supplement.
One of the unique features of playing jazz, is performing an improvisational solo; that means, you make it up. It's not easy. But a good music teacher can inspire his or her students to get over their stage fright and reticence to perform a solo in front of an audience. I must admit, even as an adult, I don't like doing improvisational solos. I am too afraid of playing "the wrong notes."
The boys and girls at Kurn Hattin have benefitted from their music teacher who consistently inspires them with courage to overcome their fears--both on stage and in their daily life. She is only one of the many talented teachers and staff who have devoted their careers to working with this population of students. Music education builds confidence and self-assurance and for children who come from troubled homes these are skills on which they will rely for the rest of their lives.
Never underestimate the power of music and performance to heal children with traumatic or troubled backgrounds. While for years "reading, writing and 'rithmetic" have been the classic features of a child's education, a little jazz can go a long way!