Meet Class Notes Artist Lyz Jaakola

by Claire Philpott, Minnesota Public Radio
November 11, 2013
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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Elizabeth "Lyz" Jaakola is a musician and educator, and an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Ojibwe near Cloquet, Minn. She teaches music and American Indian studies at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

She performs and composes in many styles and genres including traditional Anishinaabe music, jazz, blues and opera. She has performed as close to home as Duluth, Minn., and as far as Rome for the Rome Opera Festival, while her Native-based compositions have also been heard on radio and television. She has arranged many Native pieces for solo and choral performance.

Lyz is always striving to promote Anishinaabe music and education through her collaborations, performances and composition. This past week, she visited seven different elementary schools around the Bemidji, Minn., area, performing for more than 2,200 students. Lyz shared a variety of traditional Anishinaabe songs and instruments as well as the traditions and stories that surround them.

Here is what Lyz has to say about giving educational performances:

"Educational performances are very fulfilling for me as an Ojibwe musician, especially when children are my audience... Having the opportunity to impact "the next generation" in their opinions about Native culture and helping them learn how to listen to Ojibwe music is such an honor. I am very grateful to our elders for passing on the traditions, to the kids for opening their hearts and to MPR for this opportunity."

School visits

  • Cass Lake-Bena Elementary- Cass Lake, Minn.
  • Solway Elementary- Solway, Minn.
  • Lincoln Elementary- Bemidji, Minn.
  • J.W. Smith-Bemidji, Minn.
  • Northern Elementary-Bemidji, Minn.
  • Laporte Elementary-Laporte, Minn.
  • Bagley Elementary-Bagley, Minn.

About the Classical MPR Class Notes Artists program this year

Now in its fifth year, the Class Notes Artists program at Classical MPR brings performers to elementary schools throughout the state of Minnesota to give educational concerts. Each performance includes a presentation about the Artists' respective instruments, as well as the style, technique, history, and traditions related to the music that they perform.

The Artists are selected for the quality of their musicianship, and for their interest in promoting music education. This year, the following Artists will collectively travel to over 50 schools in four different geographical hubs.

  • Lyz Jaakola — Greater Bemidji area

  • Silver Spruce Duo — Duluth, Cloquet, and the North Shore
  • Dolce Wind Quintet — Twin Cities
  • Artaria String Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Minneapolis Guitar Quartet — Twin Cities
  • Vecchione/Erdahl Duo — Twin Cities
  • Odelia Trio — Rochester

These performances are supported by Minnesota music education standards-based curriculum designed by Classical MPR's Curriculum Specialist. These lessons and activities are given to music teachers in advance of each Artist's visit, and are to be used as learning materials for before and/or after each performance.

Students at participating schools will also receive an MPR-produced compilation CD featuring the year's Artists, allowing students to experience a wide range of different musical styles and ensembles. The 2013-14 album, A Musical History Tour is also available to stream online.

Classical MPR's goal for the Class Notes Artist program is to create authentic and transformative experiences for young pupils that will inspire their creative pursuits, and be a meaningful addition to what they are already learning from their music teachers.

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