Savannah Music Festival Develops Remote Learning Options for Local Students Participating in Musical Explorers and SMF Jazz Academy

Staff Report From Savannah CEO

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is adapting local music education programs to serve students in e-learning and at-home platforms.

A variety of solutions including digital lessons, instructional videos and activity books are being provided to participants in Musical Explorers, a district-wide K-2 program, along with participants in SMF Jazz Academy, a new after-school program for local fifth graders.

“As our local students, teachers and families cope with sheltering in place, we’re focused on making sure that kids and families still have the opportunity to be musically creative,” says Jenny Woodruff, Savannah Music Festival Director of Education and Community Engagement. “Our kids need music and art now more than ever.”  

Musical Explorers at Home offers a multi-pronged approach to working with students and families during school closures and includes:

A downloadable student activity book featuring activities connected to three genres of music (Vol. 1 includes salsa, Irish and folk music). A limited number of books will be printed and distributed to students without internet access.

Digital lessons connected to each genre.

Artist videos connected to each genre.

Musical Explorers at Home will be included on the websites of schools across the district.

Recent responses from teachers and principals to Musical Explorers at Home:

“Thank you so much for doing this! We are so appreciative of what SMF Musical Explorers does for our students and teachers. I will be sharing this on our Facebook page and website.” - Katie Brunson, Heard Elementary
“This is absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for going above and beyond for our families.” - Marla Cocalis, Savannah Honor Academy
SMF Jazz Academy, a new after-school program for fifth graders, gives students the opportunity to learn an instrument through private lessons and ensemble instruction.

Each participant has his/her instrument at home, and instructors are coordinating with students to schedule individual lessons online. Instructors are also creating general video lessons to be viewed at any time, including a four-part video lesson by Eric Jones, the SMF Ron & Susan Whitaker Interim Music Director. “Practice-at-home” packets are also being mailed out to participants.

“Continuity and regular exposure are essential when learning how to play an instrument,” remarks SMF Jazz Academy Manager Jessica Messere. “Through these efforts, we hope our students can continue building on what they’ve learned so far.”

A recent response from the mother of a participant: “My daughter has been so inspired from [SMF] Jazz Academy that she's practicing every night!"