Eagle County students swing, learn music history with Jazz Goes to School

By Vail Jazz

EAGLE COUNTY — Jazz Goes to School, the Vail Jazz Foundation’s jazz education program for Eagle County fourth and fifth-graders, returns to schools starting Monday. The educational program features professional musician/educators who visit 16 local schools to share their love and knowledge of jazz and American history, and inspire young people to embrace jazz: America’s own art form.

“Childrens’ eyes light up when Mr. Gulizia works with them on the introduction to jazz,” said Vail Jazz Foundation’s Executive Director Robin Litt. “There’s nothing like Jazz Goes to School elsewhere in the country, and we are so lucky to have such a talented teaching staff lead the program.”

Promoting Art

Jazz Goes to School, now in its 17th year, supports and promotes the jazz art form with a focus on educating young musicians and young audiences, fulfilling the mission of The Vail Jazz Foundation.

This first session of the four-part program traces the evolution of the music from its origins in Africa and the American south through to today’s jazz.

“We look at the geographical movement of Senegalese, Yorbuba-Dahomean and Ashantis slaves to the United States. We examine their customs and culture with a particular emphasis on the musical traditions they brought to America,” said local jazz musician and program director Tony Gulizia.

The history of great jazz giants, such as Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy, Scott Joplin, King Oliver, Kid Ory and how the migration of the black population brings the blues to New Orleans is also featured in this lesson.

History of Instruments

Additionally, the history of many musical instruments is discussed, and students are encouraged to try their hand at playing special handmade percussion instruments from West Africa. Students learn about African rhythms, which found their way to New Orleans, where they began to blend with European church music.

Gulizia (keyboard and vocals), has directed the Jazz Goes to School program for all of its 17 years for The Vail Jazz Foundation. For this first session, Gulizia is joined by his brother Joey, also a professional jazz musician and educator, on drums and Michael Pujado, on percussion. Subsequent sessions include up to six jazz musicians as they share their various functions within the jazz band.


Jazz Goes to School is presented by The Vail Jazz Foundation to Eagle County fourth and fifth graders, including all public schools plus the Eagle County Charter Academy, Vail Mountain School, Vail Christian Academy, Stone Creek Charter School and St. Clare of Assisi. Jazz Goes to School reaches over 1,200 students each year, and has exposed over 16,000 elementary school students to a course about this uniquely American art form. The final session in the spring is a true jazz concert performed by the Jazz Goes to School Sextet at the Vilar Performing Arts Center.

For more information visit www.vail jazz.org.