Education Station: Jammin' In Kalamazoo | Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
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Education Station: Jammin' In Kalamazoo


On September 19, the Kalamazoo community came together to witness a never-before-seen musical event: the world premiere of the brand-new musical storybook Jammin' in Kalamazoo! Through the generous support of the John Stites Jazz Awards and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra was able to commission a new storybook for our popular Musical Storybook education program. Over the course of nearly three years, in collaboration with multiple community partners, the project finally came together in Chenery Auditorium as students and families filled the concert hall. 

A residency by celebrated musician and composer Branford Marsalis provided the opportunity for original music, and local author Sonya Bernard-Hollins was up to the task of writing the story. Sonya's story drew inspiration from students attending the Symphony's Kalamazoo Kids in Tune (KKIT) after-school program. Their thoughts and ideas laid the groundwork for a story that centered Kalamazoo's affinity for arts in a story of youth, potential tragedy, and community building.

The characters in Jammin' honor several prominent KSO and Kalamazoo VIPs: Leta Snow (founder of the Kalamazoo Symphony), Bertha MacNeal (local Kalamazoo music educator), Yoshima Takeda (former Symphony music director), and Raymond Harvey (former Symphony music director). 

Together, by jammin' in Kalamazoo, our intrepid team of young characters saved the day, and all celebrated a happy, musical ending!


Musical Storybooks are integral to the Kalamazoo Symphony's music education initiative. Every season, the Symphony takes small ensembles out to local libraries throughout Southwest Michigan. From Giraffes Can't Dance to Ferdinand the Bull, these programs bring stories to life through music.

Each Musical Storybook pairs a children's book with music. The Storybook is read aloud, and Symphony musicians play accompanying music. For some Storybooks, there are crafts or activities that deepen the experience for those in attendance. These events are a great way to introduce children to music and reading.

Tags: education, musical storybook