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Dawn Norfleet

Jazz is a living, vibrant art form that teaches us what it means to be an American in an increasingly diverse society. Its relevance today is noted by First Lady Michelle Obama, "The understanding and appreciation of jazz is integral to understanding and appreciating American culture." Artistic expression reflects and influences the culture that produces it; the history of jazz parallels the history of the struggle for Civil Rights.

Dr. Dawn Norfleet began her professional career as a musician in the competitive jazz scene of New York City, where she worked among some of the top young musicians in the world. Returning to the West Coast, she immersed herself in the Los Angeles music scene, performing at LACMA, the California African American Museum, and the Grammy Museum. She has performed with Vijay Iyer, appeared as a flutist on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, accompanying R&B star Monica, and sang on Kamasi Washington's celebrated debut recording, The Epic. As a passionate advocate for arts in public schools, she has partnered with the Colburn School and Grand Vision Foundation as a teaching artist, served as a judge with The Music Center Spotlight Awards, and volunteers as a mentor with the ACT-SO program, a youth Initiative celebrating outstanding high school students sponsored by the NAACP.

Norfleet’s workshop, entitled ‘Do-Be’ or Not ‘Do-Bop’: A Jazz Journey, takes students on a historical trek through the development of jazz, mirroring the history of our country's Civil Rights movement. The journey starts with African American folk music such as "work songs" and the blues. It then winds through the driving rhythms and styles of New Orleans, Swing, and Latin jazz. Finally, it culminates with an informal student performance of the songs learned, including a "blues" song they've composed. Students learn about events in American history that impacted jazz's growth, jazz icons, and performance techniques - including common rhythms, "pitch bending", and improvisation. Lessons connect to American History, Social Studies, and English Language Arts. Students learn the value of attaining a group ethos while developing confidence in their unique contribution to the team music-making process. 

To schedule an Arts Integration Partnership and/or Professional Development at your school, please call (213) 972-4330 or EMAIL US›

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