Sauk Trail students 'sit in' with the pros

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Sauk Trail students were listeners and performers during two jazz music shows in the school's gymnasium on June 2.

The music was arranged and directed by Sauk Trail general music teacher John Becker.  With all of the school's fourth- and fifth-graders going to Kromrey middle school next year, and Becker moving to Elm Lawn in 2014-15, it was also a concert filled with musical goodbyes, too.

The concerts were sponsored by grants from the MCPASD Education Foundation and the Madison Jazz Society, as well as the Sauk Trail PTA. All of the students performed, either as singers or instrumentalists. Some of the older students improvised in a jazz style on their band or string instruments, and others played piano keyboards.

The concert featured local professionals including Marilyn Fisher on vocals, Jim Huwe on drum set, Chris Wagoner on violin and vocals, Laurie Lang Croasdale on bass, Paul Hastil on piano and John Becker on drum set and vocals. Joining the band were parents and professional vocalists Sarah Leuwerke, Cecilie Ballard, and Michael Brunner.

The student musicians improvised creatively, and the professionals interacted with the children with insight, encouragement and humor, Becker said.

"It was a treat to bring in artists of this caliber for an elementary school audience, and a terrific way to engage students and share the art form of jazz with our next generation of musicians,'' Becker said. "Thanks to our Education Foundation, the Madison Jazz Socity, and our Sauk Trail PTA for supporting jazz and music education in our schools!''