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Rowe's Jazz Session Reaches 600+ Around the World


“I'm playing this out the window to the monkeys... The monkeys are still there...so you didn’t scare them off. I thought they only liked classical music,” exclaimed a Costa Rican listener to the livestreamed jazz program delivered by Fillius Jazz Archive Director Monk Rowe as part of his edX course on March 6. “Thank you very much for the concert! Listening from Russia,” wrote another student. “Paris is listening!” contributed another. More than 600 listeners from dozens of countries and states joined in with those in the college’s packed Little Pub to hear Rowe and his fellow musicians play and talk about jazz.

The hour-long session, part of Jazz: The Music, The Stories, The Players, included professional as well as student musicians. Clarinetist Eudocia Montiel ’16, ran from the conclusion of the Hamilton Orchestra’s performance to join the jazz ensemble and observed how incredible it was to play with practiced precision in the orchestra only to rush across campus, switching modes, to improvise with a group of jazz musicians.

Joining Montiel were Lucas Phillips ’16 on bass, Haley Lynch ’17 on tenor sax, Ryan Glenn ’16 on drums and alumna Deanna Nappi ’15 on baritone sax. “Fantastic to hear the young people play. I wonder if they are nervous knowing the globe are watching. Applause to them!,” wrote one online listener. The students played one number Monk’s MOOC Blues which was composed for the course and named by the participants. The non-Hamilton musicians included Tom McGrath, John Hutson and Sean Peters.

In describing the unique multi-national experience, Rowe explained, “Performances don’t normally make me nervous, but I will admit that speaking and playing live to a global audience was.....adrenalin inducing. I felt powerful and humbled in equal measure.” His listeners spanned the globe from countries including Finland, Peru, Turkey, Brazil, Jordan, Spain, Macedonia, Mexico, Greece, India and Scotland, among others. They asked a wide range of questions via the edX platform throughout the hour, even requesting a bossa nova-styled jazz number which the musicians gamely performed.

“It exceeded my wildest expectations,” said Lisa Forrest, director of research and instructional design who ferried student questions posted online to Rowe at the end of each piece. Peppered between answers, Rowe also offered a review of topics already presented to his students interspersed with what he admitted were corny jokes. Educational Technologist and Digital Media Specialist Ben Salzman moderated the online conversations and Forrest Warner, AVS multimedia systems technician, managed the livestreaming.

As the hour drew to a close, online participants uniformly expressed their gratitude. Here are a few of their comments:

  • Thank you to all who have been part of the course and today's livestream - a great Sunday interlude.
  • Dancing in my chair! :D
  • Thank you all toll super toll – Tschüss
  • Kudos to all - live Jazz - great experience
  • You'll play all night, yes? ;)
  • Wonderful. You prove the point that jazz can bring the world together. Thanks all and thanks for a great course.
  • My granddaughter is a freshman at Hamilton...now I’m taking a class I love and at her school.
  • This is the most fun I have had in a MOOC.
  • Monk could do a MOOC on how to do a MOOC!
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