“We’re the only country in the world without a minister of culture,” says impresario Quincy Jones. “Our music is the most widely imitated music. In Abu Dhabi, or Cairo, or Brazil or China, everywhere, our music is there, and we are the ones that know least about it. Our American kids are the least informed about their own music. And we’ve got to fix that.”
The Quincy Jones Music Consortium is trying to do just that. The org brings together educators and leaders from all parts of the music industry to make American music education a significant part of American students’ lives.
The consortium has developed an innovative curriculum to track the heritage of American popular music by exploring the many musical styles and artists that shaped the country’s musical heritage, by revealing cultural roots, innovations and artistry.
“Our classical music is jazz. If you know where you come from, you know where you’re going,” says Jones. “They’ve got to know about Coltrane and Gillespie and Ellington and Parker. We’re putting the curriculum together now. Getting it into schools will be our next step.”
The consortium’s curriculum follows the development of the music unique to America, from West Africa to the slave ships to Brazil to Haiti to the Caribbean.
“They created a new music that the world had never seen before. All the classical giants of the time knew it: Stravinsky, Debussy, Dvorak and Greig. All of them. They all knew. And it hurts me when I see that our kids don’t know,” he continues. “I want to do books from a college level to kindergarten. I want to do films. Music is not treated as education in America because they think it’s not important. And they are so wrong.”
For more information, visit qjfoundation.org.