This award-winning documentary tells the story of a group of kids with extraordinary musical ability who learn to make the most of their gifts in an acclaimed public school jazz program in Jacksonville, FL. From their early, squeaky scales to soaring solos, watch their incredible transformation and expression in their music. Follow their musical journey from Florida to New York City, where they compete to win against the top high school jazz bands in the nation at the prestigious Essentially Ellington Festival.
Why a movie screening?
- This is an easy and effective way to spread the word about the benefits of music education while keeping students engaged at the same time.
- Your school may have a space where you can show videos. An auditorium or even a study hall with a large screen and projector would be ideal since it seats the most people, but any classroom with a screen and projector can be just as effective (and perhaps cozier). Projectors are expensive, though, so if your school doesn't have one, you can always use a school TV.
- Can't screen a movie at your school? How about asking a local religious leader for permission to use their space if they have video capabilities. You can also try asking your community center. Wherever you decide, ask if you can add the event to the the group's calendar or bulletin.
- Still stuck? Ask a local movie theater to donate screen time or host the film series—even in the morning or during the day for school children or religious groups.
- If you have a class that's approximately 88 minutes long, ask your teacher to air the flick. If not, the best time for the screening may be during lunch or after school. Either way, you should make sure the equipment is prepared ahead of time and ensure you're allowed to use the space.
- This screening should be catered to other students, but parents and faculty should also be welcome to check it out and help supervise the event. Let your teachers and classmates know, and if this turns out to grow into a large event, flyers can be used to help advertise.
A Smooth Talk: How to host a discussion…
Make sure you hold a discussion about the movie where everyone voices their opinions on the topic. There's really no point to watching a movie unless there's time for discussion afterward!
- To start things off, have a list of prepared questions that relate to the movie. Watching the movie on your own beforehand or finding a summary online can give you some ideas. Here are some sample questions:
- What are the main characters' struggles?
- What side(s) of the issue does the movie focus on?
- What do you think the director/screenwriter wants the audience to take away from this movie?
- How did music help the characters? After watching this movie, how do you feel about music education? Has your opinion changed?
- What can we do about this issue in our specific community? What resources do we have?
- Take a moment to think about how you want your conversations to be structured. Do you want to have everyone sitting in a big circle and let people voice their opinions without a moderator? Maybe your audience should break into smaller groups and then share with everyone else later. What would be the best format for what you’re trying to accomplish and for the size of your event?
If you feed them, they will come: Providing for a hungry audience…
- A good way to get people to stick around, whether in your school gym or your living room, is food! Arrange for there to be some kind of snack and drink (cookies and juice work great!) at your event. If it’s a small gathering with friends, make it a potluck where everyone brings a snack or drink for all to enjoy—that way you won’t end up dishing out too much cash.
After the credits roll: Following Up
- The movie is done and discussion has died down. Before everyone goes home for the night, give them the option to leave their name and e-mail if they’ve been inspired to do something about the cause. Hopefully you’ll end up with a list of people who are equally interested about the cause and who you can team up with for a project.
- Consider asking all attendees to take a specific action. Maybe you can provide them with a list of things they can do to help all kids get music education.
- You may want to also provide them with a simple fact sheet about the benefits of music education. It may give them food for thought later and/or they may pass it along to someone else.