On Monday and Tuesday, March 24-25, some of the CALJE (Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble) musicians provided music instruction, entertainment, and frank talk about the hard work of being good at something to several classes of Spearfish school children.

We started out VERY EARLY on Monday morning…7:00 a.m. to be exact, at Spearfish Middle School’s jazz band class.  Thanks to Abbie Chase for inviting us in to take over her class.  Victor Garcia, CALJE band leader and trumpet player, and Stephen Million, jazz pianist were on hand to give great tips and lessons to the student band.

“Proper breathing is key for wind instruments.  You all need to learn that above all else,” remarked Garcia.

Later in the morning, we moved on to the Spearfish High School band room (with the visiting 7th grade band students) to perform several jazz interpretations and to talk music and creating conversations without talking.

After lunch, we went back to Spearfish Middle School for the 8th grade band students.  Stephen and Victor were very gracious and generous with their time and talent with each set of students.  Each class had a different feel and therefore, a different method of teaching was used.

On Tuesday, March 25, Victor Garcia went solo to Canyon Hills Center of Spearfish, a psychiatric residential treatment facility licensed to serve boys and girls ages 10 to 17 who have emotional, behavioral and educational challenges.  The response to Victor’s music and in particular, Victor’s own story of growing up in Chicago’s south side, drug abuse, and gangs touched each person in the room.  “Music saved my life,” said Victor.

School residencies by musical groups that perform on stage at The Matthews are made possible with grants from the Spearfish Foundation for Special Education.

AM_color_sm-WEBThe CALJE concert is also made possible by the Art Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from SD Arts Council and General Mills Foundation.