Jackson Student Musicians Jam with Teachers

by Allison Erwin, JSD


Jackson School District music teachers who wanted to provide a way for students to play music in an informal, fun way outside of the regular school day had an idea. What if they invited students to come “jam” on a weekend?
Their idea was well received. On a recent Saturday, more than 60 students, including three sixth grade students with only three months’ worth of instrumental experience, came together at Jackson Memorial High School to make music together.
The opportunity was coordinated by district music teachers Jason Diaz, Eric Ficarra, Rebecca Fodor and John McCarthy. The team took time to pick out music in their libraries that would be fun and that would provide them with engaging and exciting compositions.

“There was very little rehearsal, only performing,” said Diaz, who is the band director at Jackson Memorial High School. “We had no idea how the experiment was going to work out but were enthusiastically surprised!”

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The students play ed through compositions that they had never seen before that morning in what the teachers called a “fantastic exercise in music literacy.” As the session moved along, it evolved into more than just a sight-reading session.
“It transformed into a conversation amongst musicians of all ages. Old students were teaching the younger students, younger students were giving older students a perspective of how much they have progressed in a few short years,” Diaz said. “Educators had the opportunity to assess how much knowledge they teach in their classroom was transferred to this experience.”
The teachers, who all volunteered their time to plan and host the event, were thankful to the district, the students and parents for allowing the experiment to progress.
“Thank you for trusting our vision and allowing our departments the freedom to experiment and develop future musicians,” they said.
Theresa Licitra, Director of Curriculum Humanities, said she was proud of this student engagement experience.
“This truly provided an extraordinary opportunity for students and certainly builds a strong framework  for our music program,” Licitra said. “I am hoping  there are some future academy students in that group!”
The Jackson Academy of the Arts was launched at both high schools this year and includes strands in Music, Art, Theatre and Dance.
For more information about any of the district academies, including the the Jackson Academy of the Arts (JAA), see the Academies link on the district website.
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