Hearing the history of America through jazz curriculum

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Music and technology are coming together to teach people around the world about jazz.

Augustana University has partnered with the Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues Society to create the Jazz Diversity Project.

The goal is to educate people of all ages, especially middle and high school students, about the history and fundamentals of jazz music.

This music will soon be heard in classrooms around the world thanks to the Jazz Diversity Project.

“That’s the history of America that you’re hearing, that’s the history of the African American artists growing up in New Orleans and here’s what makes that music distinctly American,” said Peter Folliard, Dean of the School of Music.

The classes used to happen in person, but with the pandemic, it’s turned into a virtual platform consisting of three different episodes featuring local musicians.

“It’s this interactive component of a combination of discussion, a combination of then performance, and then this analysis of what just happened, tell us about what we just heard,” Folliard said.

The project has brought students in the media and music majors together.

“I’m really excited about what is digital story telling going to look like for a musician and that’s what they are getting to experience now,” Folliard said.

They hope this project will help to bring a voice to jazz music here in South Dakota.

“My grandparents knew all of the tunes by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter and things like that. This generation, jazz music isn’t their popular music, so we are sharing this music with new audiences,” said Brian Hanegan, Director of Jazz Studies.

“I hope that there’s an opportunity for them to see this is something that I can do, I can find my own voice in music that may not be popular right now, I can pursue and find it’s story, tell it’s story and then broadcast its story and make it my own as well,” Folliard said.

The curriculum is available digitally, at no cost, for anyone around the world.

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