Jazz Academy 

Omaha Performing Arts’ Jazz Academy supports and fosters quality jazz education in Omaha area middle schools. This free program connects students and teachers to a professional teaching artist who tailors lessons to the needs and interests of each school.


We're offering free and flexible, online jazz curriculum for middle and high school students consisting of pre-recorded lessons led by local jazz artists.  Each 15-minute video lesson focuses on a core jazz instrument and includes worksheets, listening examples and other resources. Teachers or students can register to receive access to the videos and resources they are interested in.

 

Questions?  Contact Bill Grennan, Omaha Performing Arts' Education Manager at BGrennan@O-pa.org or 402-661-8447.

Sponsored by The Rebensdorf Family Foundation.

 

DIGITAL OFFERINGS

Jazz Academy Teacher Professional Development

Thursday, April 15, 2021 | 4:00 PM

Led by Marty Morrison with Teaching Artist, Shawn Bell

 

THE INTERSECTION OF JAZZ IN AMERICAN CULTURE

This session will focus on the elements, both culturally and musically, that have come together to define American music.  We will start in the late 1800’s and move to the present, discussing events and trends parallel to the innovations occurring with the unfolding of American music.  Just as European classical music is categorized (Baroque, Romantic, etc.), we will dissect American jazz into distinct periods (Swing Era, Bebop, etc.) and discuss how the musical innovations/innovators are reflective and relevant to the respective times.

It is my hope that a commitment to this topic can offer some nutrition for humanity during these difficult social times.  We are witnessing Americans continue to misinterpret one another.  This has been happening for generations.  To quote the great Wayne Shorter, “This music thing ain’t even about music, it’s about humanity.” 

 

Digital Lessons

Drum Set

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man playing drum setDavid Hawkins is an up and coming drummer, originally from Omaha, Nebraska. He began seriously pursuing music through the study of jazz, which in turn, has led him to tour, record and perform with a variety of different artists across many genres of music.

Beginning Piano

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white woman with blonde curly hair woman smiling into camera Jennifer Novak Haar is a versatile pianist throughout the United States. She performs in many jazz combos ranging from duo to big band including her own group, Novak & Haar, and she was invited to perform as a jazz pianist at the Kulturnacht festival in Braunschweig, Germany. She studied jazz improvisation with Gary Burton and is working towards a professional certificate through Berklee’s online program, and she also studies Charlie Banacos courses with pianist Garry Dial. 

Jennifer frequently performs with the Omaha Symphony, the Omaha Chamber Music Society, and for other professional organizations in the area.  She is a music director and keyboardist for local theater and has played for numerous Broadway touring productions. She toured nationally with Mannheim Steamroller and the Irish group Fír. Jennifer graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and was a Fulbright scholar at the Hochschule für Musik in Würzburg, Germany.  She is married to bassist Mark Haar.

Intermediate Piano

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man playing pianoChristopher Leach is a trombonist, pianist, and educator based in Lincoln, NE. He has travelled the country and world playing at venues and festivals large and small, and performing educational jazz clinics at both the high school and college level. 

Chris has shared the stage with notable jazz musicians such as Ernie Watts, Scott Whitfield, Bobby Shew, Bijon Watson, Kris Berg, Mary Fettig, Matt Niess, Reggie Thomas, Michael Dease, and Robert Irvine III. He has also performed with artists such as Johnny Mathis, Wayne Newton, and other national acts.

Chris received his education from Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville (B.S.), Northern Illinois University (M.M.) and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (D.M.A.). Chris is currently Instructor of Jazz Piano at University of Nebraska - Omaha where he directs the Jazz II Big Band, teaches Jazz Combo and Masterclass, and teaches private applied lessons.

Electric Bass

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young black man sitting down playing a white bass guitar Join Jacob Sorensen as students will learn about the basic concepts of Jazz and the Electric Bass.

 

 

 

 

Upright Bass

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man playing upright bassA native of Manhattan, KS, Bobby Scharmann is a stylistically diverse bassist and educator with experience in a wide range of genres. He currently performs in the bass section of Omaha Symphony, and is assistant principal bass in Lincoln Symphony. His festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra.

 


In addition to his orchestral career, Bobby has performed jazz, rock, and pop throughout the United States, appearing at such venues as The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, as well as Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. He received two awards from Downbeat Magazine’s Student Music Awards in 2015 for work with his co-led jazz septet JKS. The septet released their debut album “Moonflower” later that year. Bobby was also invited to Ravinia’s Steans Institute Program for Jazz in 2014, where he studied with faculty Dr. David Baker, Rufus Reid, Curtis Fuller and Dr. Nathan Davis.

 

Guitar

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man playing guitarTetsuya Nishiyama is a guitarist, originally from Nagoya, Japan. He has worked with some of finest jazz musicians in the U.S including Marquis Hill, Reginald Thomas, Geoffrey Bradfield, Greg Ward, Ari Brown, Robert Irving III, Tony Monaco, Bobby Floyed, Victor Garcia, and many others. He has also worked with many names on the blues R&B scene including Buddy Guy, Roy Ayers, The Emotions, Toronzo Cannon, Mike Wheeler, etc

 

 

Trombone

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shawn bell 
With degrees in Jazz Studies from Western Michigan University and Northern Illinois University, teaching artist Shawn Bell will bring his deep knowledge to students – equipping them with new skills and inspiring our region’s next generation of jazz musicians. 


Trumpet

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Man standing in front of a brick wall smiling, looking directly into cameraGreg Simon is a composer and jazz trumpeter from California, by way of Oregon and Colorado. His works have been performed by ensembles and performers around the country, including the Nu Deco Ensemble, the Cavell Trio, Alarm Will Sound, the Fifth House Ensemble, and the Playground Ensemble of Denver. He has won the NACUSA Young Composers’ Competition, the Brehm Prize in Choral Composition from the University of Michigan, and the POLYPHONOS competition from the Esoterics. Greg studied jazz improvisation and composition with Bill Lucas, Ellen Rowe, and Brad Goode, and is an active freelancer in the Omaha-Lincoln area. 

Greg is Assistant Professor of Composition and Jazz Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he teaches at the Brevard Music Center. He received a D.M.A. in composition from the University of Michigan.


Saxophone

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andrew janakDr. Andrew Janak is an active saxophonist/composer/arranger/educator currently based out of Lincoln, NE after previously spending several years in Chicago, IL.
 
Andrew has shared the stage with jazz greats Victor Lewis, Donny McCaslin, Randy Brecker, Jeff Hamilton, Phil Woods and Jimmy Heath. He has also worked/written for with various jazz/commercial groups around the Midwest such as the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, Bob Lark’s Alumni Band Band, Tom Matta Big Band and Andrew Janak and Wind Armada, a progressive jazz group specializing in original music.

Andrew graduated with a bachelors degree in music education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a masters of music in jazz composition from DePaul University, and a DMA in jazz studies/composition from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His debut album Borrowed Time was released in June 2017. Currently he is the Band Director/Instructor of Saxophone at Nebraska Weselyan University and Jazz Band Director/Instructor of Saxophone at Doane University.

 

 

 

Please read this important information prior to registering for any education opportunity:

Omaha Performing Arts strictly prohibits all students from sharing and/or receiving Personal Information, including, without limitation, phone number, social security number, address, email address, date of birth, social media account address, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc. (collectively the “Personal Information”) in connection with any education activity. Although we recommend all parents/guardians monitor their child’s internet use, to the extent that the student is a minor, parents/guardians must strictly monitor such student’s internet use in connection with O-pa education activities at all times and ensure that neither the parent/guardian nor the student share and/or receive any Personal Information. O-pa is not responsible or liable for such sharing and/or receipt of Personal Information or any consequences thereof. More information on O-pa policies is included in the following Informed Consent and Release Form. All students are required to complete this form prior to participating in O-pa education activities. By registering for any O-pa education activity, you are acknowledging that you have read and agree to abide by these policies, and the terms, conditions, and restrictions contained therein.