Another school year has drawn to a close, and for many Foxboro families that means a well-deserved breather following an 8-/1/2 month long grind bookended by Labor Day and Founders Day.
But for families immersed in Foxboro’s school music program this has been a hectic week at the Ahern Middle School, site of a pair of early-summer traditions: the Summer Instrumental Music Camp each morning and Jazz Improvisation Workshop in the afternoon.
The former targets young musicians in grades 5-9 with instruction in group performance settings that include concert band, symphony and string orchestra, choral ensembles, small group sections, chamber music and jazz band. Instructors for the summer instrumental program consist primarily of school music faculty supplemented by high school and collegiate musicians serving as counselors.
The afternoon workshop, for advanced students in grades 7-12, pairs aspiring jazz musicians with jazz educators and professionals from Massachusetts and New York to explore creative rhythms and improvisational techniques. In addition to Foxboro music educators Jen Greenleaf, Bobby Glynn, Aaron Bush and Brian Raymond, instructors feature faculty retirees Steve Massey and George Murphy — as well as distinguished FHS alumni like Kurt Bacher, Greg Woodsbie and Doug Olsen.
In fact, it was Massey — the dean himself — who greeted students at Monday afternoon’s opening session and promptly engaged them in an icebreaking exercise in jazz rhythms, which he called “the language of jazz.”
“We’re going to keep doing this until it feels good, and that might take a lot of practice,” he said. “You can’t let yourself get discouraged.”
Unlike the morning sessions, enrollment in the advance workshop was relatively low — just 74 students. According to Greenleaf, less than half of those hail from Foxboro schools, with the remainder coming from the music programs at King Philip, Walpole, Holliston, Bellingham, Dedham, Medfield and Norwood. It’s a testament to the drawing power — and staying power — of the school music program here in Foxboro.
“As you can see there are a lot of schools represented here,” Massey observed, “And you should take the time to get to know each other. We have a wide range of ages and I’m sure a wide range of musical experiences.”
True enough. But by week’s end it’s safe to say that all of the student musicians were speaking the same language. More important is the continuity demonstrated during these summertime sessions. Despite cyclical graduations, retirements and job changes, here in Foxboro the beat goes on.