UNO holds 15th annual Jazz Camp

Photo courtesy of UNO Jazz Camp

Megan Fabry

Eager young musicians walked inside the Milo Bail Student Center with their instruments tucked in a case and music in their hearts, ready to learn new tricks to become better musicians.

The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) held their 15th annual Jazz Camp June 10-15. Aspiring musician’s attended to learn about jazz theory and to improve their instrumental performance.

Pete Madsen has been a professor at UNO since 2000 and has organized the camp since it began. Madsen said he gets the word out about the camp through contacts with the area band directors. He also has direct contact with students by visiting their band classes and handing out promotional material at the UNO Jazz Festival.

UNO student Schylar Junginger heard about the camp when UNO mailed a brochure to his house in eighth grade. Junginger said the best part about attending the camp was hanging out with people from New York to Los Angeles and being able to ask them anything about their musical expertise.

The camp started at 8:30 a.m. each day and ended at 4:30, with classes taught by musical professionals in between. Lessons included rehearsals, ear training classes and an improvisation class.

Around 16-18 instructors are hired each year depending on how many students sign up, each with their own individual teaching methods and skills to share with their budding musicians. The instructors, also known as the Jim Widner Big Band, performed at the end of each day. Students performed together at the end of the week to show off their new skills to friends, family and teachers.

“The concerts are open to the public,” Madsen said. “But it’s mainly for students, so we have around 150 people at each concert. The final concert on Friday night is where the kids play, and we usually get close to 500 people for that.”

Jim Widner, the creator of the UNO Jazz Camp, has been an active participant in the camp at UNO in the rhythm section and has also directed camps in Missouri, Iowa, Texas and California.