And All That Jazz…

Daniel Island School Jazz Band to hold first ever fundraising concert on Jan. 19

The Charleston County School Board fired a shot across the bow of musical education last week, when news broke the Board had voted to cut the school district’s “strings” elementary music program. The Board soon after reversed their decision, but the message had been sent and heard across the tri-county area: music education funding was under threat.

And while here on Daniel Island and in greater Berkeley County direct overtures to cut arts and music education funding have yet to be heard, area arts and music teachers remain on “high alert,” regarding potential budget cuts to their curriculums. Arts and music education teachers have for years been forced to get creative on how to augment those budgets, and those who have been able to do so have actually grown their programs despite budget shortfalls.

Such is the case here on Daniel Island at Daniel Island School (DIS) where, for example, school band director John Spitler has grown its music education program in recent years, as evidenced by the creation last fall of the school’s first jazz band. The new, 15-member ensemble will be holding its first ever fundraising concert, The Jazz Café, on Thursday, January 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the school.

The purpose of the event is two-fold, according to Spitler.

Daniel Island School Music Instructor John Spitler

“Doing it as a fundraiser is really a secondary thing, the main purpose is to give the kids an opportunity to perform,” he said. “If we make a profit, I’d like to buy some more literature for the group and I’d like to buy a separate amplifier.”

The 20-member Charleston Community Jazz band will play four songs side-by-side with the DIS jazz band at the event, at which a spaghetti dinner will be served and attendees will be able to get a taste of what their kids have been working so hard on these last few months.

The band operates like an extracurricular club at the school, meeting before school twice a week to practice tunes of their own selection. According to Spitler however, even choosing new songs to learn has an additional cost associated with it, namely the written music they learn from. The creation of a new jazz band was always going to necessitate some creative funding, hence next week’s performance.

But luckily for them (and attendees alike), they can play.

“The kids really dig playing good music, but when we find something we want to play I’ve got to think about what instruments I have, who are my strong players, and what is it that they can do to actually make the group sound better,” said Spitler of his plight in creating the jazz band.

For his part Spitler defers credit for the growth of his music education program and the establishment of the jazz band to DIS parents, without whom he argues, musical education simply couldn’t happen.

“We have a much more active band parents group this year, which is a godsend,” he said. “Because of the demographics, every parent has one or two jobs, or is working their own non-profit. It’s been hard to get that here but now I think we’ve got it. Now I think’s its really going to start to pop.”

The first-ever performance by the Daniel Island School jazz band will be held Thursday, Jan. 19 at 6:30 at the school, located at 2365 Daniel Island Drive. The event, organized by the DIS Orchestra and Band Booster Club, has been dubbed “THE JAZZ CAFÉ: FAMILY FRIENDLY SPAGHETTI DINNER + JAZZ MUSIC EXPERIENCE.” For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit

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