By Brad Underwood, WKRC
Over the years, schools have been cutting the arts to save money, but at Cincinnati Public Schools, it's quite the opposite.
In the fall, a new afterschool activity took shape: the CPS Elementary Jazz Academy Orchestra. The orchestra is made up of 26 students from 14 different schools.
In the crowd, keeping the beat on the drums is 10-year-old Jmir Dixon.
"It's a pretty fun instrument to play. I like it a lot. I've been playing since I was 2," said Dixon. "You got people playing with you, the crowd is clapping to the beat and I just like to see that kind of motivation."
Wednesday the musicians are practicing for a very big trip and show. They'll be the only elementary orchestra playing at the Eastern Illinois University Jazz Festival after only about six months of playing together.
"Incredible progress. I think jazz with its dynamic rhythm and ability for kids to improve. It's really powerful music. It's engaging and gives them an opportunity to produce something unique to their own skills," said Dr. Isidore Rudnick.
Rudnick founded the orchestra and is the fine arts curriculum manager for CPS. The program is free for the students, a snack is provided and so is transportation to the Kennedy Heights Arts Center where they practice, if needed. The instruments are free and there are private lessons available for free too.