by Josue Gonzalez, Director of Education and Outreach

This past February we had an extraordinary opportunity to bring together two of our flagship education offerings, Rockport Jazz Workshop and our in-school residency program. Alexa Tarantino, Rockport Jazz Workshop Director, along with faculty members Alita Moses and Steven Feifke paid Cape Ann a visit during the off season, this time wearing winter jackets and snow boots instead of their usual late July summer outdoor wear.

This residency consisted of intensive early morning workshops over the span of three days, culminating in a side-by-side performance that select students gave with their professional counterparts on the stage at the Shalin Liu Performance Center. Students selected for that performance were recognized by Alexa for their talent and work ethic throughout the week.

Dan Fleury, Gloucester High School (GHS) music teacher, was very enthusiastic about welcoming the musicians into his classroom: “Having Alexa, Steven, and Alita visit GHS was a real treat! It’s always fantastic to bring in professionals who can relate to students and give them positive and constructive feedback. Also, having a handful of my students play a couple of tunes with them at the Shalin Liu Performance Center was an exceptional musical experience that I will not soon forget!”

Planning for this program has been part of a broader effort to increase Rockport Music’s impact in Gloucester. As part of this visit, the musicians were also able to visit the O’Maley Middle School in Gloucester and work with students of local jazz fixture Carlos Menezes Jr. who said, “A key part of building a music program is the exposure that young, aspiring musicians have to professionals in the field. The workshops sponsored by Rockport Music in February served to catalyze the motivations and aspirations of our student population. We are grateful for Alexa and her team’s impassioned presentation of jazz and blues. They left us inspired and yearning for more!”

Singer Alita Moses working with Gloucester High School students

Alexa and the musicians thoroughly enjoyed connecting and getting to meet all of these new faces. Thankfully they were also able to stop by Rockport Middle and High Schools and work with of the Jazz Workshop alumni, and Alexa adds, “It was such a thrill to work with the incredible students in Rockport and Gloucester during our Rockport Jazz Workshop residency. Working and playing with Alita Moses and Steven Feifke, and experiencing the students’ energy and inspiration in the classroom was pure magic! I hope that this residency can continue as a way for local students to strengthen their connection with jazz and jazz education.”

We hope to build on this success and continue to bring dynamic artists into the Gloucester Schools moving forward, fulfilling our goal to create memorable and meaningful musical experiences for all students on Cape Ann.

Top Photo: Rockport Jazz Workshop Diretor Alexa Tarantino and Rockport Jazz Workshop faculty member Steven Feifke work with Rockport Middle School students.