Return to Headlines

Gettin' Jazzy in New Orleans

Immersion into a musical culture is the only way to complete the experience of learning a music style. Aspiring jazz musicians should all have the chance to surround themselves with jazz culture, and what better location than New Orleans? New Orleans is the birthplace of all types of jazz. Taking the Jazz Ensemble 1, Jazz Studies class, and the Jazz Choir to New Orleans provides the ideal off-campus learning opportunity for aspiring jazz musicians.

Before Hurricane Katrina hit, Mr. Jaeger and Mr. Erickson got the idea to take jazz students to New Orleans. After Katrina the trip came to a halt, but 5 years ago the trip was resumed and still continues today. On April 6th, Mr. Weiss, Mr. Jaeger, Ms. Schwingle, and jazz students boarded a coach bus and drove down to Louisiana, staying until April 11th.

“New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, and the history that surrounds the city goes deep,” Mr. Weiss stated when asked about why he believes the trip is important. New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French, and until America’s purchase of Louisiana in 1812, the ownership of the state switched quite a bit between the French and Spanish. However, it took until the beginning of the 1900s for jazz to really come to life.

Most of the trip was spent in the French Quarter during the French Quarter Festival. The French Quarter Festival brings all types of people to the streets, “It is a tremendous opportunity to hear lots of musicnot only jazz, but other styles as well,” Mr. Jaeger said. “The French Quarter Festival is like no other festival in this regard.”

Mr Weiss commented “I think the most valuable part of the trip is hearing and experiencing all of the live music...the music festival inspires and enriches our students in ways recordings can't.”

The trip has benefited the attendees in many ways. Due to the multiple tours attended they’ve learned a deep level of New Orleans’ history. On top of that they’ve gained a musical experience that’s hard to achieve without visiting New Orleans. Ethan Suhr, a junior bassist who attended the trip, said, “To see musicians immersed in their craft on every street corner is mesmerizing. As an artist I hope to be able to foster some semblance of their joy in my own work.” Mr Jaeger stated, “I think the experience will result in these students becoming better individual musicians.”

Rhiannon Rupnow-Menefee - May, 2016