'Jazz at the Mill' to raise funds to promote music education

Numerous studies show a link between music and academic achievement in children. Nourishing that link is what the new Wilson County Children’s Music Association is all about.
Mar 28, 2013
jazz 1  Photo: Submitted to The Democrat

Tom Harrell, internationally known trumpeter, is the headliner for the upcoming Jazz at the Mill celebration. 

Numerous studies show a link between music and academic achievement in children. Nourishing that link is what the new Wilson County Children’s Music Association is all about.

"I was a teacher for 30 years and my two children were also  Suzuki violinists," said chairperson Diane Parness. "I believe children who study music move on to great success. Evidence shows kids who are exposed to music have higher achievement, do better in academics – especially math and exhibit better behavior."

In keeping with that philosophy, the non-profit organization was created to "stimulate, promote, teach and develop interest in music, to educate the general public in the styles of music and the role music study plays in developing cognitive skills and to create opportunities for all who are interested in music to participate in its activities."

To keep the music playing for local children takes money, so funds must be raised. The signature fundraising event will be Jazz at The Mill, scheduled for April 19-20.

Tom Harrell, internationally known trumpeter who has received the Jazz Journalists Association Awards 2012, 2011 and 2010 and trumpeter of the year nominee, will be the headliner.  

At jazzatthemill.com, tickets may be purchased for the Friday night VIP event. Supporters can also visit the site to donate funds to provide this opportunity for Wilson County children.  

The WCCMA's board of directors – Cheryl Bockstruck, Rob Cesternino, Steven Coleman, Stacy Jernigan-Horner, Kenny Martin, Diane Parness, Todd Tressler, Jennifer Wolkonowski and Yvonne Wood, as well as volunteers, have worked for months to formalize the organization, curriculum and jazz festival.

The plan is that WWCMA will hold various workshops throughout the year for students, educators and the community. The workshops may range from "master classes" by established musicians and the opportunity for children who have never touched an instrument to learn to love music, to ways for music teachers to help their students practice more effectively.  

The association plans to be available to students who have an aptitude for music, but perhaps don't have the funds to see it through. To that end, scholarships for music students to study privately with a teacher having established credentials will be made available.  

Parness said an application is in the works and an administrative group would be formed. That information will be available soon and will be made available on the website. It is the association's intent to provide performance opportunities for the students, as well as present other musical programming open to the community throughout the year.

But the planned jazz production isn't just about children.

"We also want to expose the larger community to music," Parness said. "We have a lot of country music here, and we have the Nashville Symphony."

Regardless of age, Jazz at the Mill looks to bring the joy of music to everyone in Wilson County, organizers said.

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