Garfield High School and Washington Middle School are teaming up with the annual Earshot Jazz Festival to put on Jazz Up Jackson Street, a one-night jazz blowout featuring star alumni musicians and future jazz legends. Proceeds will be used to continue the work of building equity and creating sustainable and more diverse demographic representation in music programs at our schools.
Following the retirement of Clarence Acox, Garfield High School’s legendary jazz band director, student musicians and educators at Garfield and Washington Middle School are determined to carry on a standard of rigorous music learning AND shake things up.
“Music programs in the Central District have a long history of awards and national recognition that has helped create its legacy. However, the participating musicians have often represented only a fraction of the demographics in our schools,” says Jared Sessink, the new Director of Bands, Jazz and Drumlines at Garfield.
Historically, students of color have been under-represented in many of the schools’ music ensembles. “My colleagues and I share a focused goal of building equitable and inclusive systems in the music programs at our schools in the CD, starting with Washington Middle School, which is a primary feeder program for Garfield” stated Sessink. “This requires acknowledgement of systems that have led to the exclusion of marginalized groups, particularly in our most advanced ensembles, and working collaboratively with music teachers and district leaders to disrupt these harmful trends.”
To that end, the schools are teaming up with the annual Earshot Jazz Festival to put on Jazz Up Jackson Street, an all-star alumni and student fundraising concert on October 10th at Town Hall. Significant resources are needed for some of the changes that are already being put into place. For example, starting this year, all 6th grade Washington Middle School students will be enrolled in a performing ensemble (Band/Choir/Orchestra) requiring the purchase of instruments, books, and instruction to ensure that all students can participate fully and equally. Proceeds will also go to providing additional instrument coaching for beginner level musicians, outreach and support for feeder elementary schools, purchasing higher quality school owned instruments, and developing a more culturally responsive music curriculum.
About Jazz up Jackson Street
A first-time big-band jazz concert supporting students from Garfield HS & Washington Middle School as they team up with all-star alumni and the annual Earshot Jazz Festival to promote increased equity in school music programs.