Fair Haven’s Sickles Students Get Some Blues Learnin’ at the Basie

Third graders from Fair Haven’s Viola L. Sickles School recently caught a case of the blues at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.

Accompanied by music teacher Vince Mottern and chaperones, the students attended the “Yes Indeed!” jazz program at the Basie on Nov. 17. Presented by Jazz Reach, the music program explores the evolution of the blues genre and its impact on American music and history.

After a live performance of blues and jazz music by members of Jazz Reach, the Sickles third graders and their teachers, along with Red Bank Primary School students and teachers also in attendance, participated in a question-and-answer session with the musicians as well as musical demonstrations.

Students learned the answers to questions such as: “Are some instruments harder to play than others?”; “How and why do your hands move constantly when you are drumming?”; and “Is it really hard to play the saxophone?” (The answer to the last question – “As with everything, it is hard until you learn the fundamentals; once you get started and keep moving along, it becomes a whole lot of fun.”)

“We all enjoyed the show very much,” said Mottern. “In music class we studied some of the elements and history of the blues, and we also played a blues pattern on instruments. It was really great to bring the topics full circle in this way.”

A partnership with the Kennedy Center — which includes partnerships with the Count Basie Theatre and the Red Bank School District — is sponsored by the Fair Haven School District in the interest of broadening students’ cultural understanding and experiences.

Jazz Reach members performing and presenting at the event were: Beresford Bennett (narrator), Zach Brown (bass), Chad Lefkowitz (tenor saxophone), Hans Schuman (drums), Greg Ward (alto saxophone) and Glenn Zaleski (piano).

— Edited press release from the Fair Haven School District

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management