“I was SUPER excited. This is the kind of work that changes lives!”
Shawn N. Bender
Principal, Perkerson Elementary
“Thanks for helping bring artists to our school. My favorite thing was jazz for kids. When I grow up I want to be a singer… and win shiny prizes!”
Alina Yamini, 3rd grade
“Thank you so much for helping bring artists to our school. When I grow up I want to be a dancer so I can be famous like you all!”
Shaniya Thomas, 3rd grade
Rialto Jazz for Kids is an ongoing series of comprehensive jazz education programs for elementary and middle-school aged students throughout metro Atlanta. Rialto Center has partnered with more than nine middle schools during the last 10 years. The ensemble visits four or five times during a school year, beginning in September and ending in May, featuring consecutive programming that adds additional lessons and concludes each with post-visit activities and study materials.
The Rialto Jazz for Kids program is under the leadership of Dr. Gordon Vernick, an accomplished author and musician, and head of the Georgia State Jazz Studies program. Included in the performance group, which travels to schools to perform, are musicians who are noted as teachers and musicians. They include:
- Dr. Gordon Vernick, Director RJK, Trumpet
- Gary Motley, Keyboard
- Justin Varnes, Percussion
- Mace Hibbard, Saxophone
- Justin Chesarek, Percussion
- Tyrone Jackson, Keyboard
- Billy Thornton, Bass and Guitar
- Rick Rodriguez, Trombone
- Wes Funderburk, Trombone
Dr. Vernick brings a 20-year history of providing educational programs to young audiences.
The Rialto Jazz for Kids program crafts a multidisciplinary program that brings lessons of culture and history to life for young children through music. As stated in the Georgia Quality Core Curriculum, “students in the early stages of music education learn by doing. The experience further enables them to understand connections and relationships to other disciplines. Students must be exposed to and understand their own historical and cultural heritage as well as others.”
Rialto Jazz for Kids programs feature four to six visits to each partner school, providing a comprehensive program, including written educational materials, consecutive lesson plans and opportunities for follow-up with students interested in particular musical instruments.
The Jazz for Kids program is being presented at the Atlanta Jazz Festival and to our partner entities. The activities and materials connected with the Rialto’s educational jazz outreach are curriculum-driven, stemming from, reflecting, and meeting the Quality Core Curriculum standards of the public school systems.
As funding for the arts continues to decline in our public schools, the Rialto is filling the gap by bringing the arts to Atlanta’s elementary, middle and high schools with our free signature education outreach program, Rialto2Go. Visiting Rialto artists engage students through demonstrations, workshops, master classes and performances, followed by activities that reinforce the learning, creating a unique teaching environment in underserved communities that sparks a child’s quest for discovery through music and dance. This exposes students and teachers, faculty, staff and community to the arts in a very personal, exciting and interactive way.
- Since 2005, the Rialto’s educational programs have reached more than 32,000 students.
- Annually, more than 3,000 Title 1, K-12 public school students participate in our educational activities.
- Each year, about 90 professional Rialto visiting artists from across the world perform for and engage in programming with Title 1 public school students in Atlanta.
- The Rialto collaborates with two public elementary schools, six public middle schools and three public high schools annually to provide arts education. There is a waiting list of schools requesting participation.
- Our Education Outreach programs serve four counties in Metro Atlanta and beyond.
- More than 150 students engage each year in high-level training in music and dance through our free master classes provided by Rialto Series artists to advanced high school and university students.
The Rialto’s Experience the Arts Program provides underserved young people and families free tickets to our Series shows. Through partnerships with public schools and community organizations, the Rialto identifies communities with little to no access to the arts to ensure access to quality arts and educational programs, offering free or reduced-priced tickets to Series events and free educational outreach to schools and communities. Through workshops, lectures, demonstrations, bus trips to the Rialto Center and provision of free or reduced-priced Series show tickets, the Rialto continues to open doors to cultural understanding through the arts.
Plan to meet your friends downtown for Feed Your Senses, the Rialto’s free monthly lunch-and-learn performing arts series every third Wednesday at noon in the lobby at the Rialto Center for the Arts. Feed Your Senses features each month a diverse offering of local performing artists who provide an insider’s look at their craft. Regular attendees include people from senior centers and special care facilities in addition to the public. Previous Feed Your Senses performances featured guitarist Alex Gordon, saxophonist Quinn Mason and pianist Kenny Banks Jr.
Feed Your Senses is supported in part by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations from the Georgia General assembly (GCA is a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts), the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and 100 Peachtree.
The Rialto Series artists present master classes in various areas such as jazz, dance or other world arts. Previous master classes this year have included a flamenco dance workshop with Noche Flamenca from Spain and a jazz combo critic session with Ahmad Jamal.
Call Laverne Perry, artist and education manager at 404-413-9820 for details.
The Rialto Student Ambassadors at Georgia State (RSA) seek to educate, entertain and inspire the student body through the Rialto Center’s cultural arts programming by encouraging students to take advantage of the rich experiences and personal development opportunities that are available to them and to enhance student life through student-interest programs and event planning.
Some of the Rialto Student Ambassadors’ past events on campus include: tailgating events at home football games, GSU Idol, the International Thanksgiving Feast, Rialto Week at GSU, Amateur Night and many more.
During March and April of the current term, an application window will open for interested members to apply to be an RSA. Public notice will be given through student media, promotional materials and the Rialto website. Once the window has closed, no applications will be accepted. Should the number of ambassadors need to be increased at any time outside of the application window, another window can be re-opened by the advisor to add new ambassadors and public notice will be given.
The Rialto Series artists and related speakers from the Atlanta community and abroad give pre-show lectures for select Series shows, providing background information about their art form, country or relative issues.
Previous pre-show lectures have been before Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Noche Flamenca and other Series events.
Rialto Series pre-show lectures and events are at 7 p.m. in the Rialto lobby or SunTrust Presidential Suite. Call Laverne Perry, artist and education manager, at 404-413-9820 for details.