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VCU Jazz and Salem Church Middle School are
Partners in the Arts

Following a summer 2007 presentation by VCU Jazz Director Antonio García for Richmond-area teachers sponsored by Partners in the Arts, Salem Church Middle School faculty member Dorrie Bishop approached Tony in October 2007 with a proposal to link the two schools via a grant from PIA for the spring 2008 semester. The grant, titled “Remembering the 1920s,” would “provide our seventh-grade students with a meaningful understanding of the 1920s, including its history and the social impact of its literature, art, and music; endow our Honors Institute students with leadership and team-building skills made more powerful and significant by their connection with music and music history; and present our entire faculty with music-based teaching strategies that can be applied in all content areas, in all grade levels, and with all ability groups to enhance the learning process for all of our students.”

The grant was the joint inspiration of SCMS English teacher and Honors Institute Program Coordinator Dorrie Bishop, Social Studies teacher Michael Irby, Fine and Performing Arts Chair Patricia Bray (each of whom had attended Tony’s PIA workshop), and Visual Art teacher Steve Harris. This team and García worked on the grant application for months. It was approved by PIA in January 2008 and led to a February 2008 In-Service workshop by Tony for the middle school teachers and a Kick-Off Concert for the Salem Church students at VCU. The concert performers were Tony (trombone/vocals) and VCU’s Mary Morton Parsons Jazz Masters, a faculty ensemble that presents solo and group sessions at schools throughout Richmond and beyond to acquaint children with jazz (funded by a permanent endowment donated by patrons of jazz through a challenge grant from The Mary Morton Parsons Foundation). That group includes Profs. Skip Gailes (sax), Mike Ess (guitar), Bob Hallahan (piano), Victor Dvoskin (bass), and Tony Martucci (drums).

Throughout the semester, this collaboration brought various VCU Jazz faculty and Jazz and Music Education students to SCMS to teach specific classes on Louis Armstrong, the Harlem Renaissance, and Leadership and Communication Skills. The residency concluded in April 2008 with a Student Showcase at Salem Church Middle School, for which Tony and VCU students improvised music to accompany a variety of SCMS student interactive presentations.

During the Faculty In-Service Workshop, Salem Church Middle School Assistant Principal Jaime Stacy cues VCU Jazz Studies Director Antonio García as his “Visible Brain” to learn how musical themes and variations guide improvised solos in the same manner as improvised speech.

During the Salem Church Middle School’s Kickoff Concert at Virginia Commonwealth University, SCMS student Brea Hill (right) serves as the “Visible Brain” for VCU Jazz Saxophone Prof. Skip Gailes (center) as Prof. García narrates. Also performing are (from left) VCU Profs. Bob Hallahan (piano), Mike Ess (guitar), Victor Dvoskin (bass, hidden), and Tony Martucci (drums).

SCMS students Bradford Priestley and Brea Hill revel after the VCU Kickoff Concert!

Seventh-grade Honors Institute students Kendall Seeley, Destiny Volkman, Jordan Gadson, Kia Henderson, Erica Skinner, Caitlin Schoemmell, Sarah Mills, and Terri Schears explore communicating via “The Telephone Game.”

Honors student Kendall Seeley improvises a speech.

Honors student Sarah Mills reads her poetry in partnership with the interactive music of VCU Jazz Studies student Karl Morse (guitar) so as to develop her thoughtful phrasing.

Prof. García coaches Honors students Jesse Medlin and Destiny Hairfield as to how to interweave their original poems about the 1920s at war and at home.

Honors student Kendall Seeley experiences being the “Personal Drummer” of Prof. García’s speech patterns.

Prof. García and Karl Morse interact with the full SCMS auditorium of students.



Tony Garcia teaches the Students at Stony Point