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Jazz program gives students something to think about night and day

Herbie Hancock was part of a star-studded line-up of musical maestros that shared their insights with students as part of the International Jazz Day education program.

A young woman sings while an audience watches.

Killara High School student Leah Berry hits the right note with masterclass presenter Michael Mayo.
Credit: Steve Mundinger/Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz.

Singer and Killara High School student Leah Berry walked away from the Opera House on Friday with a few pointers on how to take her music to the next level.

After stunning the crowd at the International Jazz Day education program vocal masterclass with her rendition of Cole Porter’s ‘Night and Day’, Berry submitted herself to the critique of New York-based jazz musician Michael Mayo.

While Mayo told the budding jazz singer her voice was fabulous, he suggested it would be great for the audience if she varied the rhythm by using some shorter notes.

Mayo then preceded to show by example. For Leah it was advice and a moment to treasure.

Leah was among hundreds of public school students who were buzzing after their encounters on Friday with jazz legends such as James Morrison, saxophonist Antonio Hart and composer Herbie Hancock.

The event was organised with the Arts Unit, Sydney Opera House and Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz as part of the lead-up to UNESCO’s International Jazz Day which will be held tomorrow in Melbourne.

The NSW Public Schools Jazz Orchestra will be playing at the IJD Opening Ceremony at Government House in the morning and will also perform outside Hamer Hall in the lead up to the Global Concert, which is broadcast worldwide, in the afternoon.

More than 1,500 free tickets were snapped up for the education day program held at the Opera House.

Arts Unit leader John Benson said the education program had provided students with a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the jazz field.

“Herbie Hancock describes jazz as the music of sharing and Friday was a day when presenters, players and audience all shared a love of jazz and a love of learning,” he said.

Masterclass presenter Mayo said the event was also a learning experience for the musicians involved.

“The things that come out of you solidify what you’ve learned in the past,” Mayo said.

He said the students who he critiqued in the vocal masterclass “all sounded great”.

“I could tell they were really working on their craft and it is nice to know you have program like this here to foster that talent.”

Kotara High School pianist Jacob Janzen travelled from Newcastle to attend the event and said it was inspiring to see the musicians in person.

“I feel like I’ve really learned a lot,” he said, citing the advice of James Morrison who told students they should “practise less and play more”.

Bellingen High School students Rosie Stephen and her brother, Xavier, travelled six hours for the day and could not contain their excitement at the musical feast.

“I just can’t believe the opportunity,” Rosie said.

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