An inherent commitment to music and creativity sees jazz thriving on Prairie's campus


“If you put a musician in a place where he has to do something different from what he does all the time…that’s where great art and music happens.”

Miles Davis in Miles: The Autobiography


In 1959, six years before The Prairie School first opened its doors, Miles Davis released the greatest jazz album ever made. Aficionados and novices alike will waste little time telling you A Kind of Blue is brilliant for many reasons. Most notable, however, are Davis’s dedication to creativity, as well as the musician’s innate knack for exploring the avenues of his imagination.

In this way, Prairie and Miles Davis (and jazz in general) have a lot in common.

Ask former theater and band director Pat Badger and she will tell you about the rich history jazz has on Prairie’s campus, one that continues to thrive under the watchful eye of nationally-renowned trumpeter and Instrumental Music Teacher, Jamie Breiwick.

In February, Prairie hosted the 2019 Woody Herman Jazz Festival, a match made in bebop heaven. Conducted by the Milwaukee Jazz Orchestra, the Festival was billed as an educational day of jazz open to middle and high school ensembles in Southeastern Wisconsin.

The collaboration between MJO and TPS was a continuation of Prairie’s first Jazz Day in the spring of 2018. The brainchild of Breiwick, last year’s event saw a handful of schools visit campus for a day of learning and playing with members of Prairie’s music department and famed NYC jazz trumpeteer Jeremy Pelt.

Much like Prairie’s participation in Summerfest Jazz Education Day and the school’s yearly Visiting Artist Series, Jazz Day is another chance for Prairie students to continue their development as musicians.

At this year’s festival, Prairie welcomed ensembles from Glen Hills Middle School, Waterford High School, Catholic Memorial High School, and Milwaukee High School of the Arts for a day dedicated to jazz history, workshopping, and improvisation.

“It’s great to see all of you here,” said Curt Hanrahan, MJO’s Artistic Director, as the saxophonist addressed students during a special concert. “Jazz isn’t really happening in a lot of the schools anymore. It’s up to you to let people know this kind of music is still around; that’s why we’re out teaching the young people. This is a deeply American art form.”

To learn more about music and jazz at The Prairie School, contact Jamie Breiwick, Instrumental Music Teacher.