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Savannah Music Festival Uses Technology to Kickstart Jazz Education Funding


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The Savannah Music Festival (SMF) is trying to raise a minimum of $25,000 for music education through kickstarter.com, a fundraising website that supports creative projects through an all-or-nothing funding method. Kickstarter enables funding at any level (as little as $1), imparting confidence in donors by ensuring that pledged funds are only collected when the project is successful. SMF has already raised $22,477, with support from 143 individual contributors from across the country. The $25,000 goal must be met by June 28 for SMF to receive this funding for its Swing Central Jazz high school big band program.

Swing Central Jazz (SCJ) is one of the Savannah Music Festival's four primary music education initiatives. SCJ was developed six years ago and has become “the Pro Bowl of high school jazz band competitions" (South Florida Sun Sentinel). It is a national initiative that invites twelve high school jazz bands from across the country (chosen by audition) to travel to Savannah to work with some of the world's most esteemed jazz masters and college-level educators. SCJ involves multiple workshops, outdoor showcases on Savannah's River Street, a public competition in the Lucas Theater, and a finale concert during the festival. Prior to the annual competition, SMF sends a clinician to each band's classroom to work on competition selections. In 2010, SMF launched a free web-based learning center at swingcentraljazz.org, which includes extensive video lessons by SCJ clinicians.

SCJ is founded on the belief that high-quality mentoring is essential to the future of jazz, and is completely free to all participants. As a non-profit arts organization, SMF produces all of its music education initiatives through individual, corporate and foundation contributions.


The Savannah Music Festival presents a world-class celebration of the musical arts by creating timeless and adventurous productions that stimulate arts education, foster economic growth, and unite artists and audiences in Savannah. In addition to an array of musical performances that includes dance, film, and narrative programs, the organization operates year-round to produce youth concerts, lectures, in-school touring programs, recordings, a weekly public radio series, an annual high school jazz band competition and workshop, and web-based music education content. The 2012 festival will take place from March 22—April 7.

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