VCU Jazz and the Stony Point School are
Partners in the Arts
Following a summer 2004 presentation by VCU Jazz Director Antonio García for Richmond-area teachers sponsored by Partners in the Arts, Stony Point music faculty member Dr. Alice Hammel approached Tony in November 2004 with a proposal to link the two schools via a grant from PIA for the 2005-06 school year. The grant would focus on the teaching of jazz elements and history across the core curriculum from grades K-8 at Stony Point as a vehicle to excite SP students about all forms of learning.
Click here to view video highlights of the presentations.
The grant was the dual inspiration of SP First Grade teacher Ms. Blair Grigg, who had attended Tony's PIA workshop, and Alice Hammel, who had suggested that a link with VCU Jazz would be ideal. The three worked on the grant application for months. It was approved by PIA in June 2005 and led to an August 2005 In-Service workshop by Tony for the Stony Point teachers and a Kick-Off Concert for the Stony Point (and neighboring St. Andrew's) students at VCU.
Throughout the academic year, this collaboration brought VCU Jazz faculty and Jazz and Music Education students to SP to teach specific music and non-music classes. Some SP students also received private lessons. The residency concluded in May 2006 with a Closing Concert hosted at VCU by Tony 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 included Profs. Skip Gailes (sax), Mike Ess (guitar), Bob Hallahan (piano), Victor Dvoskin (bass), and Howard Curtis (drums).
Initial reaction to VCU Jazz's involvement with Stony Point can be found in the eager letters from the fifth-grade SP students in Ms. Jann Holland's class, including the following comments:
- When they started playing, they did not mess up on any songs, and I think that was awesome.
- You played so good! I have never seen anyone play like that!
- And it was funny. I loved the songs.
- I can't wait until Mr. Reggie comes and visits us!
- I really liked how Mr. A.J. related the string bass to walking.
- When Mr. Grant played the drums, I got inspired to play the drums as well.
- My favorite musician was Mr. Rex because he did the most work (I thought) on stage and was really COOL!
- My favorite arrangement was the Afro-Cuban song.
- The wonderful music made me feel mellow.
- I enjoyed the jazz concert, but it made me kind of sleepy.
- My favorite song was "If I Only Had a Brain." I like it when Mr. Tony scats.
- My favorite instrument was the piano played by Mr. Bob.
- When the performance ended, I felt like humming "The Pink Panther" theme song. (It's a little jazzy.)
- I can't wait until we come back in May.