September 21, 2016

Can A Preschooler Learn Jazz?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and based on my family’s experience at WeBop. This post contains affiliate links. Oh My! Omaha is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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I’ll be honest with you, I loved the premise of WeBop when I first heard it, but was a little skeptical about just how much learning a preschool jazz class could entail.

I got my answer after the first session.

We got home and my daughter insisted she needed to perform a concert before bedtime. She recruited her big brother to play percussion on a pail.

I had to pick a song from WeBop: A Family Jazz Party for them to play along to. Loudly.

Thanks a lot, WeBop.

My kid digs jazz.

And apparently, she has band leader potential.

 

What is WeBop?

Our late afternoon WeBop class starts off with playing along with a song using various musical instruments and call-and-response.

It turns out, my preschooler wasn’t the only kid in Omaha making music. Other classmates from her WeBop class have been composing – as only 3- to 5-year-olds could – their own music about playdates and dinosaurs.

Omaha Performing Arts brought WeBop, a preschool program created by Jazz at Lincoln Center, to Omaha this year. This fall is the first session. Parents attend and participate with their 3- to 5-year-old, learning about jazz through songs, dance, books and play. I go into detail about it in this post

We sing and dance a lot in class.

Since improvisation is a cornerstone of jazz, WeBop introduces in it to preschoolers in a fun way - like making sounds and pretending to be an airplane. My son took this picture - you can see me in the background with very weak wings.

Since improvisation is a cornerstone of jazz, WeBop introduces it to preschoolers in a fun way – like making sounds and pretending to be an airplane. My son took this picture – you can see me in the background looking like an angry airplane with weak wings.

It’s a pretty cool experience partly due to the teacher, Susie, who happens to be a well-known jazz vocalist in Omaha (check out her allmusic.com page!). Accompanying her is Matt, a talented pianist. I’m sure he’s probably got an allmusic.com page too.

Anyway. Susie sings, Matt plays, and we sing or play along too. The drums are a big hit every time they’re brought out in class.

Each class so far has had a few minutes of drumming. Children may practice playing solo, improvising or copying what their teacher, Susie, plays.

Each class so far has had a few minutes of drumming. Children may practice playing solo, improvising or copying what their teacher, Susie, plays.

 

My daughter loves all of it. I mean, LOVES it.* 

She bows after each song in class, people.

It’s like she discovered the lure of the spotlight already.

* The class is 45 minutes long, so toward the end of it, her love starts dissolving into a puddle.

 

Keep the learning going at home

At our first class, parents were given a packet that included the curriculum for each week. In it, we were able to see which songs we heard in class, which book was read, and we were reminded which topic we covered (Week #1 – Swing, for instance). It also gave us tips to bring each lesson home.

Here are a sample of my daughter’s favorites:

1. Listen to jazz recordings and let your body swing to beats 2 and 4.

2. Sing a favorite book in a blues style.

3. Create a musical story using different sounds you find in your surrounds. (I call this, “bang on everything as you walk by.”)

 

Want to WeBop?

WeBop preschool music class in OMaha

The fall session is in full swing. See what I did there?

You can get class details here; I recommend starting from the beginning so your child gets the most out of WeBop. I’ll let you know when they announce the next session.

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