Wisconsin News

Assignment: Education - Grimm Visits Sparta High School

2012 American Idol Contestant Reed Grimm Works with Sparta Jazz Ensemble

SPARTA, Wis. - Vocal music teacher Janette Hanson loves working with the Sparta High School women's jazz ensemble.

"These are kind of the king-of-the-hill here at Sparta when it comes to music," said Hanson. "And they've worked their tails off. And they've auditioned to be in this group. They really have some great musical skills."

And these five young ladies are getting a rare opportunity to work with someone who may have a familiar face.

"Everybody Welcome Reed Grimm," said Hanson.

You may remember, Wisconsin native and former UW-La Crosse student Reed Grimm from the reality show American Idol last season. The high school students did.


"I'm star struck," said Halla Ortery, Sparta jazz ensemble member.

"I thought it was insane," said Brooke Granahan,Sparta jazz ensemble member.

Reed was a former student of Janette Hanson's while she was faculty at UW-L about eight years ago. He came to Sparta High School to work with some of her students on stage presence.

"A lot of times kids in school are shy and they're reserved," said Grimm, singer/songwriter. "And when we're doing music we want to be as free as possible. And just breathe and be alive."

"Reed's going to be able to infuse some of that energy into their performance," said Hanson. "A lot of that has to be visually right here. They don't have to do a lot of gesturing, a lot of movement, but right here they have to be able to draw the audience in and he's the man at that."

"You want to set up a certain energy, a certain atmosphere and you have to bring that to this room," said Grimm.

Reed worked with the students on visualizing and portraying the emotions of the music.

"It's like setting the scene so to speak," said Granahan. "If you can picture New Orleans, like he had said, then you can picture being there. You can feel the vibe of the music that origianlly came from there."

"As an artist, you want to create something," said Grimm. "So, you have to know what you're creating. As many pieces of the puzzle that you can put together. You know just to get that vision as concerete as possible."

And in just one short hour with Reed, the students no longer looked bound by the chords of their music.

"You have to prove or preceive that you're confident even if you're not confident," said Ortery. "So, the stage presence is probably the biggest part of it."

"Everybody kind of came out of their shell, and it really clicked with him today," said Granahan. "It was awesome."    

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