For over 20 years the VJC has fostered a Jazz in the Schools program bringing jazz language and culture to youth throughout the state. As a result, long-term associations with the VT Association of Jazz Educators, Brattleboro Public Schools (elementary, middle and high), Kurn Hattin Homes, Leland and Gray High School, and The Putney School continue to flourish.
In 2000 the VJC Sextet was formed to take the Jazz in the Schools program to the next level. Its main mission is to bring jazz to populations who are less exposed to the arts. Our current Sextet members are Rob Freeberg, trumpet, music director; Bill Ballard, alto saxophone; Jim Heffron, tenor saxophone; Cathy Martin, piano; Jay Elfenbein, bass; Mike Patek, drums. In weekly rehearsals, they have developed fun programs that actively engage audiences at schools, libraries, and assisted living homes. The Sextet has also performed a concert at Cheshire Correctional Facility. The VJC Sextet’s mission is to bring live jazz out of the concert hall and into less formal settings. In the Sextet’s school performances, audiences are given a glimpse of jazz’s boundless nature, shown the potential of improvised music, and encouraged to pursue their own musical development. In Vermont’s rural, often economically under-served communities, the Sextet’s performances and discussions present this art form to many youth and adults who are experiencing jazz for the first time.
“Thank you for offering an outstanding performance and clinic – the performance aspect served as exemplary role modeling for our students. The improvisation was of high quality and the ensemble modeled the idea of lifelong learning in music!”
—Steve Rice after a VJC Sextet Performance at BUHS June, 2018