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It started off as a small workshop of jazz musicians playing at schools, with a Q&A session afterwards.
Those music appreciation sessions that the Cape Town International Jazz Festival artists willingly signed up for, have grown into something the schoolchildren vie for.
Craig Parks, the content supervisor and director of the training and development programme, says it has grown especially over the past three years.
When he became involved he agreed with festival director Rashied Lombard that the programme had to grow and be sustainable. They also wanted to include a skills component so they targeted grade 11 and 12 pupils and initially used their venue in Loop Street for workshops with five students from eight schools.
“The following year it went through the roof,” said Parks.
What they concentrate on now is the importance of teamwork when it comes to stagecraft, so the children learn about stage management, budgeting, PR and marketing as well as the etiquette of playing on stage.
The development programme has four parts to it. First is the performance workshops. Second is a workshop to introduce about 40 pupils to the basic requirements of event management. Third, the pupils who dedicate themselves during these Saturday workshops get a chance to shadow the professionals at the development programmes and workshop with the professionals in the week leading up to the actual festival.
The fourth part excites the pupils the most – eight pupils are chosen (one from each school) to start a superband which gets to play at the festival. This year, in addition to the Allstar Superband, Eersterivier High School will share its talent on the Manenberg stage.
The school band has been singled out because of the discipline and dedication displayed by the members and once the Allstar Superband has opened the stage, they will play and all the pupils will take part in the finale.
Each school has had to appoint a liaison who acts as a band manager to ensure schedules are stuck to and rehearsals attended.
Pupils who play on stage are auditioned by the Berklee College of Music summer school scholarship for one to attend the school of music for five weeks.
Parks said Berklee had also indicated that Cape Town was their official place of auditions and interviews in Africa and he was already getting calls from Uganda and Egypt.
Pupils who showed dedication last year when they shadowed technicians managing stages, sound crews and behind-the- scenes work at the Jazz Festival, this year actually work on the teams.
“One has a bursary to study stage management at Artscape, while another is studying law and wants to be an entertainment lawyer. They’re learning about ushering at the Fugard Theatre and we’ve tried to help place them in jobs,” Parks said.
Students of the photographic course have been appointed to document the workshop process, rehearsals of the bands and the concert featuring the Allstar Band at Groote Schuur High School on April 2.