San Jose Jazz, Progressions, Music Education

Progressions 2.0 – Celebrating Our Students' Growth at a Concert on Saturday, Dec. 12


SJZ Prog Lockup As we enter this season of gratitude, we hope you will join us this Saturday, December 12 as we present a Nucleo concert featuring all Progressions students. The event takes place at Santee Elementary School (1313 Audubon Dr., San Jose) at 10:30 am. It is free and open to the public. We encourage all supporters to join us for this festive holiday event in celebration of the accomplishments of our students! As Progressions enters its fifth year of programming, I am reminded of just how far we have come. What started out as a small pilot program with two general music classes for 1st and 2nd graders at Santee Elementary and Success Academy has grown into a complete after-school music and homework youth development program serving 200+ children four days per week at three sites in the Franklin-McKinley School District. We offer small group wind ensemble instruction, keyboard, bucket drumming, an ensemble experience for intermediate players, a group vocal experience during what we call Community Music and general music in addition to homework support, snack and recreation. The hard work that has been required to roll out what we now call Progressions 2.0 is worth it because our team does it in order to offer the highest quality music education to a population that deserves access to the broad benefits of arts programming that many communities have the luxury of taking for granted. Progressions_1web We are lucky to have a 13-person team that is passionate and humble, collaborative and giving. For example, one of our long-time trumpet players has been struggling to keep up with his peers and had become visibly frustrated in recent weeks. A Progressions Teaching Assistant suggested the student switch things up and try the trombone, and has volunteered to help him outside program time. The student has only been at it for two weeks, but already the Progressions team has noticed that he is progressing more quickly and seems to have re-engaged in the learning process. In addition, attendance at Santee—our site with the most mobile population and where poor attendance and high attrition rates has historically impeded musical progress—is up. The quality of sound of our intermediate band has improved exponentially in the last month alone, and as of this week, all students get a hot meal every single day. We owe an enormous thank you to our funders, who believe in our model and have been willing to take risks on our proposed growth plan. In addition to the multi-year funding we receive from the City of San Jose’s Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force, this summer we received a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to scale up Progressions significantly. A full list of our current funders follows.

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A few weeks ago as I was walking through the cafeteria of one of our schools, a teacher stopped me. She said she wanted to thank San Jose Jazz for its commitment to the youth at her school. She was a teacher when we first launched and had personally witnessed the program blossom into what it is today. “For the first time,” she said, “we have a real after-school enrichment program that kids are excited about. They tell me regularly what they are learning in class and feel proud to be a part of Progressions.” Parents, too, were reminded of the opportunities presented by the Progressions program when they accompanied their children to a UC Berkeley-sponsored “Seminario,” a day-long exchange that brought together students from 10 El Sistema-inspired programs from across Northern California. The Seminario featured a concert by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela (under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel), peer performances, a rehearsal, and an end-of-day performance that brought together members of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra, the UC Berkeley Symphony Orchestra and students from groups like Progressions. The performance took place on the main stage of UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. The day was transformative for many of our students, who thanked us for giving them a chance to go somewhere new for the day, meet other young musicians with shared dreams, and begin to envision the possibility of one day attending an institution of higher learning like UC Berkeley. Cal Performances has published a short video on the Seminario as part of its Berkeley RADICAL initiative. Check it out to learn more about the event. Please contact me directly if you’d like to see Progressions 2.0 in action. You are welcome anytime! For updates, please visit Progressions on our website.  

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