BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – After more than 50 years of playing, musician James Morrison’s message to students with Boardman High School’s Jazz Band comes down to simple questions: What’s music for? Why?
Morrison, who has played for U.S. presidents, British royalty, and composed the score for the Sydney Olympic games, conducted a master class for the students with musician and producer Willie Murillo. The class was held ahead of the school’s annual Jazz Fest.
Morrison and Murillo say working with young people is important.
“When music gets to you, that’s really what I love to see. If I can get the students to that point where they feel and go, ‘Yeah, that’s what this is about,'” Morrison said.
“What I love about it is that it gives students kind of a sense of ownership and hope,” Murillo said.
Both believe strongly in playing with and teaching young people about musical arts and inspiring them along the way.
The students admit the experience is both thrilling and nerve-wracking.
“It’s incredible. You’d think playing with a professional you’d get a lot of anxiety and pressure, but it’s just normal practice you just play along,” said Anthony Demain.
Morrison says the feelings go back and forth.
“The way I like to put it is to be there when the lights come on. You know, when they get inspired to be there and be part of that with them is really inspiring for me,” Morrison said.
Both musicians say the lessons the students learn here now in band will help them in their other studies later in life.