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 Saint Xavier University hosted its sixth annual Southside Summer Jazz Camp this summer. The camp that was open to students in sixth grade through 12th grade took place at the college campus, 3700 W 103rd St, Chicago, July 12 through July 16. (Suppplied photos)

Saint Xavier University hosted its sixth annual Southside Summer Jazz Camp this summer. The camp that was open to students in sixth grade through 12th grade took place at the college campus, 3700 W 103rd St, Chicago, July 12 through July 16. (Suppplied photos)

SXU holds annual Southside Summer Jazz Camp

By Kelly White

Saint Xavier University hosted its sixth annual Southside Summer Jazz Camp last month.

The camp was open to students in sixth-grade through 12th-grade and took place at the college campus, 3700 W. 103rd St., Chicago, from July 12-16.

“I have attended Saint Xavier’s Jazz Camp for several years now and have always found it to be an excellent opportunity to be able to work with experienced jazz musicians and learn more about my own musical ability,” Johnathon Weber, Oak Lawn High School senior, said.

The camp provided students, like Weber, with the opportunity to learn from and work with an outstanding group of jazz educators who are dedicated to helping students improve on their musical abilities as section players, improvisers and sight-readers. The camp was open to students of all levels of experience and welcomes students of all instruments, including trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, string bass, guitar, vibraphone and drums.

Students performed under the guidance of camp director, Dr. Shawn Salmon, and assistant camp director and director of bands at Bloom-Trail High School, SXU alum, Michael Bielecki.

“I have a lot of great memories from my time as kid at jazz camps,” Dr. Shawn Salmon said. “I loved playing in the high school jazz band, but it was at the camps that I felt I really had a chance to learn deeply, from some amazing jazz educators, about all the various styles, techniques, and traditions that jazz has to offer. In addition to the learning more about the music I enjoyed, I got to share the experience with others. It was week of creating great music and building friendships. It was at one of these camps that I met my future wife.”

When Salmon was made the Director of Jazz Studies at SXU eight years ago, he knew he had to start a jazz camp at SXU to help bring similar experiences to the young musicians of the community.

“The camp focuses on helping students develop their love for music and jazz,” Salmon said.

During the SXU Southside Summer Jazz Camp, students had the ability to work with SXU music faculty, alumni, current students and special guests and will participate in daily rehearsals on jazz repertoire, instrument sectionals, improvisation master-classes, jam sessions, guest concerts and music theories workshops. It all culminated in a final concert on July 16, where students were able to showcase their talents.

More than 50 students participated at the camp, coming from as many as 20 different local high school and middle schools. Many are from the areas surround SXU: Evergreen Park, Oak Lawn, Eisenhower, Palos and local CPS students, along with some students who traveled from Minooka. Lemont and West Aurora.

“Jazz music provides students the ability to create as individuals and collaboratively, a feeling of accomplishment and pride, it teaches the importance of hard work and discipline, and allows students to connect with the past while creating music in the present,” Salmon said. “I think one of the biggest things that music does is allow students to be heard and connect with others. Each year, through this camp, these students get to create not just music, but great friendships, lots of laughter, and lasting memories. Those are the important things that music brings to us all.”

Students agreed.

“I’ve been attending summer jazz camp since middle school and I really enjoy it,” Timothy Weber, Oak Lawn High School sophomore, said. “We have a lot of fun learning new jazz and working with great musicians. Mr. Salmon has helped me gain the confidence I need playing the trumpet and when I improve.”

The health and safety of students was a top priority of the camp, according to college officials.

All rehearsal conditions fully complied with local and state health guidelines. Students maximized rehearsal time outdoors, and rehearsal rooms will contain HEPA Air filters, sterilizing wipes and other safety precautions.

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Saint Xavier University hosted its sixth annual Southside Summer Jazz Camp this summer. The camp that was open to students in sixth-grade through 12th-grade took place at the college campus, 3700 W. 103rd St.

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