MENC Member Makes Jazz a Capital Celebration

MENC member Harry A. Schnipper, executive director of the Blues Alley Jazz Society, is gearing up this week for the 5th annual Big Band Jam! in Washington, DC. Perfectly timed to be a highlight of Jazz Appreciation Month, the event runs April 17-29. Big Band Jam! brings the best in big band jazz to the nation’s capital. It features both professional and student performances and rich opportunities for jazz education.

Schnipper became a member of MENC after the dissolution of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) in 2008. “I originally conceived Big Band Jam! in 2003 to be an event with the vibe of an IAJE conference, but with stronger and more developed education content and more performance opportunities for students,” he explains. “When IAJE was no more, such an event became even more important.”

This year, Schnipper has incorporated the National Standards for Music Education developed by MENC into the event program. “We’re using the National Standards for certification purposes,” he says.

Big Band Jam! features performances at DC venues such as Blues Alley, Voice of America Stage, Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. The Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument will host many DC-area high school ensembles. Many performances, including those of high school and collegiate ensembles, are free and open to the public.

“Big Band Jam! will help educate the students of Washington, DC (and others who join us) about America’s unique jazz heritage,” said Schnipper. “This is a jazz festival by kids, for kids, to kids, and from kids!”

More information on 2009 Big Band Jam!

Elizabeth Lasko, April 16, 2009. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education