In the Roots of Rock & Roll the audience experiences accomplished musicians playing the music America loves, and Cool Cats help bring the students to an understanding of how the music works and where it came from. The students help the Cats create by participating in the music, and by the end of each performance everyone understands connections between the music and so much else in our common culture.
The Cool Cats bring age-appropriate educational content, humor, audience participation, and enthusiastic fun to 3 wonderful shows.
- Roots of Jazz: From Spirituals to Swing (K-6) explores this quintessential American art form
- BioJazz: American Musical Heroes is tailored for Middle and High School
- Roots of Rock and Roll: All Together Now tells the story of a new American music that changed the world.
Roots of Jazz: Spirituals to Swing (Grades K – 6)
Students experience a sweeping view of America’s musical history, with Traditional Jazz as our “time machine.” We travel from an African-American Spiritual (Civil War) through Duke Ellington’s Swing (1930’s), including Scott Joplin’s Ragtime (1890’s), Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans (early 1900’s), and the Jazz Age (1920’s). Students join the Cats in a “second line” umbrella parade! Instrument demos help us understand the physics of sound. We “build the band” one instrument at a time, showing that playing a song is similar to writing a story. Students help create the song by choosing an instrument to tell its own story via an improvised solo. Expressing our problems via the Blues helps us feel better, and sing-a-longs bring the whole group together in the way only music can.
BioJazz: Musical Heroes (Grades 6 – 12)
The Cool Cats middle/high school concert emphasizes the heroes of classic jazz. We tell a brief story about the life and career of many important musical artists (examples: Mary Lou Williams, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, George Gershwin). Important contemporaneous events in American history are mentioned to give context. A song associated with each artist is then played, bringing their particular genius to life. Students come to understand the values that unite us as Americans: hard work, cooperation, ambition, empathy, and respect. We pay tribute to New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, and we show the inner structure of music by “building the band” one instrument at a time. From Civil War era spirituals to 1930’s Swing, the Cool Cats help students understand the enduring influence that early jazz continues to play in American culture. A Power Point demonstration to accompany the performance is available.
Roots of Rock and Roll: All Together Now (Gr. K-6)
Students experience the excitement of an American musical form that changed the world. The Cats play more than 10 dynamic songs from the 1940’s through the 1970’s, helping lead to an understanding of our shared history, geography, and values. Instrument demonstrations introduce the physics of sound: for example, learning to create low and high notes. The connections between different genres (blues, soul, folk, Motown) and the heroes who created them (Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Woody Guthrie, Aretha Franklin) help us understand who we are today. We encourage lots of student participation and we all get exercise by combining dancing and spelling!
Single Performance: $1,100
Back to Back Performances: $1,570
Three Performances: $2,300
Workshops with Jim Fryer and Jamie Sherwood, (Grades 3 and up) prior to the Performance:
Singing the Blues
A small group of students (25 maximum) learn the poetry of the Blues, listen to some traditional lyrics, write their own blues, try vocal improvisation (scat singing) and prepare to sing with the Cool Cats during the school concert. Length: 60 minutes.
Playing the Blues
A small group of instrumentalists from the school band (25 maximum) learn to play a blues melody, begin to learn to improvise, and prepare to sit in with the Cool Cats during their school performance. Length: 60 minutes.
Workshop with all the Cats Immediately after the Performance
*Meet the Performers: “Hang With The Cats"
Immediately following the performance, a smaller group of students(maximum 50) get to know the Cool Cats up close and personal with a chance to dialogue with and ask questions of the five members of Cool Cats. This allows the students to follow up on subjects introduced during the show, learn more about how the instruments work, find out how to put a band together, and to satisfy their curiosity on any aspect of the music. Length: 30 minutes
Residencies are also available.
About the Artists
The audience experiences accomplished musicians playing the music America loves, and Cool Cats help bring the students to an understanding of how the music works and where it came from. The students help the Cats create by participating in the music, and by the end of each performance everyone understands connections between the music and so much else in our common culture. We emphasize the positive values that music teaches us: freedom of expression, respect and tolerance for others, cooperation, trying to do your best, friendship, problem solving, and love of our common American traditions .
“What a wonderful performance the Cool Cats group gave our school! So enriching, inclusive and age appropriate. We’re all still tapping our feet and snapping our fingers. Many, many thanks to you and them!” Kathy Miller, Art Teacher, Middlebury Elementary School
“I just wanted to let you know that the feedback from both students and staff about the Cool Cats Jazz Band was fantastic! The performers were great and the kids were so engaged! Teachers loved how they drew analogies to writing and students really got their message.” Hanmer School, Principal