With a Song in Their Hearts

What role should music and the arts play in our schools?  We all know that NCLB places the spotlight firmly on reading, math, and science.  Does that leave music classes as value-adds, where kids can further enhance their core competencies, or does it leave them as non-necessities, programs quickly shut down as budget dollars grow tight?

Musicians from Steven Van Zandt to Quincy Jones have established foundations and programs to ensure that music is not stripped from those K-12 years.  They are approaching it in a way that integrates history and sociology and other social sciences.  Eduflack has heard many a story of K-12 music classes designed to boost math skills.  And all of us who have participated in a school chorus or picked up a school-issued instrument would like to believe it helped us, even if we had not musical ability whatsoever.

All of that is a long-winded path to an entirely self-serving entry (though I am quite taken by what Van Zandt is trying to do, honestly).  Today is the birthday of Eduflack’s youngest sister.  She was one of those students that K-12 music programs were designed for.  She played in the orchestra.  She starred in the school musicals.  She excelled in the chorus.  She then went on to get a bachelor’s and master’s degree in jazz music.  Today, Edu-sister is a professional jazz singer in New York City.

More importantly, this month, she released her first album to rave reviews.  The album is “When the Night is New.”  The artist is the one and only Abigail Riccards.  If you love jazz standards (the sorts Ella Fitzgerald would sing), this is the album for you.  It is available at www.jazzexcursionrecords.com, as well as through www.amazon.com and iTunes.

Yes, I am a proud brother.  And yes, it is her 27th birthday.  But the album is also really, really good.  And it’s not just Eduflack saying it.  It’s www.ejazznews.com, www.allaboutjazz.com, Midwest Record, Jazz Police, www.musicianreviews.net, www.jazzchicago.net, and many others.  And the buzz keeps growing.

At this rate, we may soon see an Abigail Riccards-led foundation on getting jazz into our schools.  Wouldn’t that be something?

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