For one family, the Community School of the Arts‘ first annual jazz camp was extra special.

“It reminded me why I teach,” said Anthony Jones, Harding University High School’s band director.

Jones was sitting, stacks of sheet music in his lap, in the audience in Queens University’s Dana Auditorium. The musicians were running through their final rehearsal before show time.

At jazz camp, he’s the brass instructor and director of the ‘B band.’ He’s also the proud father of two of the program’s students.

As he spoke, his eldest son, Sterling, 13, sat on stage behind the drum kit. Stetson, 11, sat nearby, trumpet in hand.

The week offered Jones a chance to share what he loves — jazz — with the people he loves — his sons and his students.

“My kids got to see me enjoying what I do,” he said, covering his heart.

Area band directors had considered hosting a jazz camp for years. But, says the school’s president and exectutive director, Andrea Stevenson, Alan Kaufman is the man who pushed the project along.

“We knew we should do it,” said Stevenson, “but Alan showed up and said, ‘Here’s how it should go.’”

The school asked Kaufman for a wishlist, so he gave them one. In it, he asked for teachers and a fine facility. Aside from one or two additional teachers, he got everything he asked for.

“We expected 15 students,” he said, grinning. They got 50.

The students arrived last Monday at 9 a.m. After playing their scales, they were divided into ‘A band’ and ‘B band’ based on their skill level.

For five days they practiced and attended theory classes. During breaks, instead of resting, they broke off into duets and trios. They weren’t practicing; they were creating their own songs.

“They’re sponges,” said Jones. “They wanted to learn as much as we could teach them.”

The Community School of the Arts took a hit earlier this year when Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council (ASC) fell on hard times. Fortunately, according to Stevenson, the school is in good shape. In fact, they’re expanding.

And, thanks to a generous donation from Al Roker’s “Lend a Hand” charity, the school is in a position to give back to the community more than ever.

Sponsors of the charity donated more than the school needs. In addition to instruments and art supplies, it also got a washer and dryer, clothes and shoes.

The clothing items, said Stevenson, are going to Crisis Assistance Ministry’s free store. The washer and dryer? Charlotte Emergency Housing gets that.

All of the items donated will be put to good use in Charlotte, said Stevenson.

For those who weren’t able to participate in this year’s jazz camp, don’t worry.

When asked if the program will be back in 2010, Stevenson said, “Oh, yeah.”

To find out more about the Community School of the Arts programs, visit its Web site at www.csarts.org or call (704) 377-4187. Sholarships are available.

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