Jazz at the Concourse may be gone, but the jam will find a home and live on. The Madison jazz scene remains vibrant: the fan base for the jam is large, the list of performers on the registry page continues to grow, and the jazz calendar is full each night of the week. Unfortunately, things can change. For the jazz scene to stay strong we must continue to cultivate interest in jazz. Since musical tastes are largely set during youth, and youth are not being exposed to very much jazz, it makes sense to start with them. Mentoring is one way to introduce jazz to young people.
Mikayla Gilbreath, a talented teenage jazz journalist, makes a strong case for the power of mentoring in her profile, “Nick Colionne: Making a Difference for the Future.” She notes that jazz is in many cases being pushed aside by rap, rock, and other contemporary music, and that many kids do not know what jazz is. She describes how Chicago based jazz guitarist/vocalist Nick Colionne, “has found mentoring children to be both an effective way to create new jazz fans for the industry and an extraordinarily rewarding experience for himself.”
The article discusses how Colionne became involved in mentoring, illustrates how mentoring can lead to lasting friendships, and even provides ideas for nonmusicians to help out:
Everyone can participate in the process by simply introducing children to the music at an early age, taking kids to jazz festivals and concerts, and by encouraging their involvement in jazz programs at their schools. We can also make contributions to support school jazz programs, which are increasingly being eliminated due to inadequate public funding. All of us can be a part of the solution in some fashion.
Mikayla Gilbreath may only be 15 but she is already a very good writer and full of wisdom beyond her years. Read her heartwarming profile of Nick Colionne, and her own story, and I’m sure you will agree the future of jazz depends on nurturing an interest in jazz by young people.