Xerox International Jazz Fest Offers Workshops to Young Musicians

Jun 27, 2013

Credit Sarah Tembeckjian

It's a diverse crowd at The Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival, with everyone from local to international jazz fans strolling down Gibbs Street. Among the crowd are young music students participating in a series of workshops hosted by the Eastman School of Music. WXXI’s Sarah Tembeckjian sat in on a workshop where students got to play with a rising jazz musician...

Past the crowds and through a narrow corridor inside the Eastman School of Music, you’ll find middle and high school music students in a practice room piecing together their shiny brass instruments.

The Jazz Festival hosts a series of workshops for young musicians every year. Students get to play in an environment that allows them to develop skills and build confidence while playing. This year, the Festival brought in budding saxophone player Yolanda Brown for Sunday’s workshop. Before getting to work, Brown discussed her game plan for the session.

“The whole essence of today is about improvisation," Brown says. "You don’t have any music, you don’t know the song, but the thing is about creating a vibe that lets other people enjoy what you’re playing.”

Brown says she wanted the students to express themselves through their instruments, and to have fun while doing so. To prove it, she jumped in with the students on her tenor sax.

“When you first step into a workshop, every single time the students are very nervous, they don’t want to play, and by the end just seeing their faces and how enthusiastic they are, they don’t want to stop playing! That’s the rewarding part and I don’t leave until I get that smile.”

A smile worn by 12-year-old Aiden, a trumpet player at the workshop, who enjoyed participating with the group.

“Yeah I just felt really released and free, felt like I was flying. It was a really nice feeling.”

Jazz Fest student workshops conclude at the end of the jazz festival.

They are free and open to the public.