North Omaha Music Academy holding teaching sessions


OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – It’s still all about the music in North Omaha’s historic Jazz District.

Dana Murray is the executive director of the North Omaha Music and Arts Academy. He says it’s important to teach the history of the area and the music — but we can’t lose sight of it now.

“It’s really easy to look to legacy from years past from the ‘50s and think that moves the needle now, because it doesn’t,” Murray said. “Me being a jazz musician, I’m totally into the legacy of the music and its importance, but I’m more driven to reach kids where they are right now and teach them why those things are important.”

That teaching comes in the jazz masterclasses, and the young — some real young — are here, to learn and enjoy the music.

“I just like the sounds of all the instruments combining together,” said bass player Porter Hanson.

“I hope to learn some tips, other great opportunities in music,” said bass and sax player Cooper Hanson.

Murray has brought in some of the best to sit in front of the class to teach. Sherman Irby was called to jazz at the age of 12.

“Kids relate to the things that they grow up with, just like I did,” Irby said. “So I tell them a little about my story, you know, the things that influenced me, and kind of build from there, and then we find some things that relate to them.”

Trumpeter Marcus Printup doesn’t know if the next generation hears the music the same way he did.

“I think everyone hears music in their own way, their experiences,” Printup said. “The great Charlie Parker said music is your own thoughts and your own wisdom.”

But these jazz greats say the dedication, practice and discipline is more than music — it’s life — and it’s these lessons that bring us all together.

“I’m in the frame of mind, inclusivity is the pathway to unity. It’s the pathway to empathy. Understand each other, you should want to know what another culture is like because that adds something to you.”

And Murray says that’s all from the music.

The non-profit academy is located on the corner of 24th and Lake Streets. Its vision is to help shape the next generation of artists and the future of the North Omaha community.

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