The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse jazz ensemble’s version of “Frosty The Snowman” didn’t just earn applause Wednesday — it had the audience dancing.
To be fair, it was a group easily moved to move, especially to a beat: three kindergarten classes from neighboring Emerson Elementary School.
They came to hear the Jazz Ensemble II rehearse for an upcoming “Swinging Yuletide” concert. In turn, the kindergartners got an early chance to perform songs they’re practicing for a Christmas concert.
“The energy they have gives you energy to play,” said ensemble trumpet player Emma Angoli.
Six-year-old Owen Kennedy was equally complimentary about the jazz performance, declaring it “awesome.” He also gave his classmates a thumbs up for their vocals on “My Red Sled.”
Karyn Quinn, associate director of jazz studies at UW-L, had invited one kindergarten class for the music exchange last year and word spread.
Jazz also fits into the kindergartners’ current music study unit, said kindergarten teacher Deb Bemis. The young students later were able to try some of the ensemble’s instruments.
Bemis said she regularly takes her class to UW-L, whether to visit the art gallery or walk the campus and watch construction progress on new buildings. “It’s the best resource,” she said. “They offer so much variety here, and, for kindergartners, the best way to teach is hands on.”