Made in the Shade Celebrates 28 years with Young Audiences!
Jul 6, 2022
YAMA is excited to celebrate 28 wonderful years with Made in the Shade on our roster! The ensemble was formed in 1990 when a group of music school graduates decided to play on the Boston Common in celebration of July 4th. Soon after, they auditioned for YAMA's roster, and since then they have delighted audiences with their enthusiasm and deep dive into the rich musical history of the United States with their programs Jazz: America's Music, and The Roots of American Music. Not just performers but also musical educators themselves, bandleader Dan Fox and Crick Diefendorf decided to extend the arts learning by showing early learners how music and math go together with Musical Mathematics. Smaller groups are able to learn about collaborative music making in the Roots Music Workshop, and young instrumentalists starting out in their school's band learn the basics of jazz in Master Class for Band and Jazz Ensembles.
YAMA Staff had a great time chatting with Dan and Crick about their experiences performing with Made in the Shade for the past 28 years.
What brought you to performing for young people, and why is it important to you?
Crick: I find teaching to be a rewarding endeavor. I enjoy it especially when someone's actually learning from what you're showing them…and you’re seeing them teach themselves something new.
Dan: Yeah, same thing here. I've enjoyed seeing students feel gratified with what they're doing, teaching them and seeing them get better. You have to be diverse to be able to survive as a musician, or any kind of artist…you have to do a lot of different things and be versatile.
Crick: [Young people’s] ears are much wider open, much more receptive to it, and it’s all about how you present it to them, too. You get to show them how it’s fun to play, how you’re enjoying yourself up there. They need to not only hear the music, but they need to see you doing it as well.
Dan: That’s a good answer! I just thrive on seeing kids get into what we're doing…Having this pause of a couple of years, we had forgotten what it was like. Getting back into it this spring was really a revelation how much we really enjoyed it. It's true that many of these kids might not have ever seen a live band before, so it's a job that we take seriously. We want to make a good first impression, and we really want kids to pick up instruments. That's one of our goals: to push that, and let them know that they can start at any age…It's really something for everybody.
Crick: In both our shows, the roots show and the jazz show, we kind of like to empower the audience, and say that ‘You’re part of this, too!’...The audience is a very important part of the show, it’s give and take and working off each other’s energy.
What has been a highlight/memory/story/proud moment of your time with YAMA?
Dan: One of the stars of the show (he's not with us anymore) was Paul. He was a tuba player, and he was like a superhero for kids. He was a total character…Kids, when we’d be done, they’d just line up for autographs from him…only him!
Crick: There’s too many experiences to remember. Every one is different, too, it seems. There’s always something…like one little thing that will stick out that I remember about it, whether it’s something that a student does, or it’s something that one of us does.
Dan: In our Made in the Shade show, the kids get to conduct the band in a free improvisation, and there's some really memorable times with kids conducting. It got pretty wild sometimes, and the kids really got to express themselves. That’s always fun.
What is your wish for the future of arts education?
Crick: That's it’s fully-funded because when you don't fund it, everything seems to go downhill from there. And I mean fully funded.
Dan: I think it is really an important part of education, and it's the kind of thing that people might not realize until it's gone. So that's my hope, also, is that the right people upstairs are pushing for it to be funded. To help out kids, especially kids who can’t afford to rent instruments or get lessons.
Crick: Arts education in general, the blanket, needs to be fully funded. No questions asked!