Uniting the Jazz and Classical Music Traditions

December 6, 2018 by Renee Fischer

The Peabody Institute’s Breakthrough Curriculum focuses on teaching students “what it means to be an American musician at the highest level”

Sean Jones, the Richard and Elizabeth Case Chair of Jazz Studies at the Peabody Institute, is leading the conservatory’s new Breakthrough Curriculum, which will help students meet the demands of today’s ever-changing musical landscape. He’s also teaching them the unifying history of jazz.

“Jazz is uniquely American in that it fuses cultures,” Jones says. “We have the marriage of African rhythms with European harmonies. And with the new Breakthrough Curriculum, Peabody has a wonderful opportunity for being the curator of this music, jazz, and classical music. And it’s true fusion in that it is the oldest conservatory in this country.”

Founded in 2001, the Peabody Jazz Studies Department has become one of the conservatory’s most comprehensive areas of study.

“The changes in the jazz program are going to break down the walls that have taken place between jazz and classical music over time,” Jones says. “Then we can begin to really express what it means to be an American musician at the highest level. And if we go out into the community — bridging gaps, bringing people together — this is indeed history. It’s a defining moment.”

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