NYPD Gives Kids an Education in Jazz
by Jeffrey Harmatz
Feb 04, 2009 | 4169 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Students danced to NYPD Jazz Band’s performance at P.S. 147.
There was nothing “blue” about the NYPD’s appearance at Bushwick’s P.S.147. Rather than the blues, the halls of the elementary school were filled with the swinging sounds of the last century’s best jazz numbers, bringing the popular American music to the ears of New York City’s youngest students, many of whom had never heard it before.

The NYPD’s Jazz Band played a lively show at the elementary school’s immaculate, century-old stage to entertain the students and share with them the joys of jazz music. Nearly two-dozen police officers from precincts all over the city took the stage with instruments in hand to play old jazz standards, with some new songs thrown into the mix to keep their young audience captivated.

After an invitation was extended to the jazz band by P.S. 147’s new principal, Julia Drake, musically inclined officers set up their instruments in the auditorium and proceeded to put on an interactive jazz show for the youngsters.

Songs included standards like “Brazil,” played with steel drums, Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts theme, “Linus and Lucy,” and several patriotic tunes as sung by big-voiced soloists and accompanied by the students themselves. Less traditional selections were thrown into mix as well, including a number of recent chart-toppers that feature a jazz backbone, like Outkast’s “I Like the Way You Move.”

The NYPD Jazz Band’s show at the elementary school was much more than a mere musical performance, as rhythmically inclined officers led students through a variety of dances at the front of the school’s auditorium.

Those included everything from the “Electric Slide” to a Conga line, and almost every student had the opportunity to show off their moves during one of the songs. For the grand finale, the school’s teachers, staff, and even the principal all joined elbows at the bottom of the stage for an impromptu rendition of the “Can-Can,” much to the students’ delight.

“It was fun, and I liked the music,” said fourth grade student Camilla. “I thought it would be silly at first, but it turned out to be better than I thought it would be.”

“My favorite part was when they brought out the big tuba,” said Joel, another fourth grader at the school, expressing his affection for the large white, marching-band style sousaphone that was fitted with an “NYPD” banner.

“My favorite part was when they brought our whole class up to do a dance,” said Camilla.

In addition to the students and faculty, the NYPD Jazz Band performed for a very special guest at the school, namely Councilwoman Diana Reyna.

“I think it’s awesome that urban, city kids are getting the opportunity to listen to live jazz and getting exposed to good old-fashioned music,” said the councilwoman. “This performance also builds trust between the students and police officers.”

According to the school’s staff, the NYPD Jazz Band does not typically play at schools, but came to P.S. 147 at the request of Principal Drake. She was rewarded for her initiative not only by the bright smiles of the students, but by a key place in the staff kick-line that closed out the show.
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