Playin’ Around With Playbook: The Beth and Kelly Show
Hey everyone! This week on Playin’ Around With Playbook, I spoke with the dynamic duo Beth Fortune and Kelly Clingan from The Beth and Kelly Show.
Dubbed “the Beth and Kelly Show” by colleagues, they’re teaching soulmates who love to talk shop and laugh their asses off. They don’t have all the answers, but they do have a ton of experience and are willing to ask questions and make mistakes.
Kelly is currently the Director of Education at Seattle JazzED and a frequent adjudicator at local and regional jazz festivals, including the Lionel Hampton and Reno Jazz Festivals. She also presents and teaches at regional and national music conferences including JEN, MMEA, HMEA, ASTA, CWU, Arts Schools Network, and Berklee City Music. In 2018, Kelly served on the ‘Expanding Opportunities to Learn Jazz in After-school’ Taskforce at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Elizabeth Fortune is the Director of Orchestras at Seattle’s Ballard High School. Fortune’s work has been at the forefront of National Content Music Standards-based curriculum development. In 2015, Fortune was one of 25 semi-finalists out of 7,000 nominations for the Grammy Music Educator Award. She is a long-time member and contributor to the American String Teachers Association and serves on the National Association for Music Education’s Council for String Education.
Thank you to Beth and Kelly for the laughter and knowledge! Below is an excerpt from our conversation on December 23rd, 2021. Click here to view the full interview.
TRISTA FORD: What was the initial inspiration for the Beth and Kelly Show? How did this idea come about?
BETH FORTUNE: We were reacting to really what I would say is the twin pandemics. Kelly and I saw what needed to happen during the height of education being changed during covid. We saw what needed to be happening and we saw that it was not happening. So we decided to broadcast it to the world.
KELLY CLINGAN: We had no idea if it would work. I was like, we’ve actually talked for years about how we want to be jazz education pendants, and how it would be frickin’ hilarious if we went to education jazz festivals and was like a mysterious science theater 3000 style. And it would be our sort of clowning on the situation and or giving helpful tidbits as the festivals are going on. So it sort of came from that idea. It’s pedantry just with us.
TF: Beth, a lot of your work has been with The National Content Music Based standards curriculum and working with Nafme. Can you speak a little bit about this process and experience?
BF: I’ve been serving Nafme in many different ways over the last decade or so. Currently, I am the national chair for orchestral education. I am also on a professional development committee and also serve as the curriculum writer for the grant that was passed through congress. I am writing standards using primary sources from the library of congress, which is like, one of the coolest experiences ever really. But over my period of serving with Nafme, I’ve been able to do a lot of work in providing resources to folks to help them understand and utilize the standards. I think that nafme realized kind of early on in the process after they rolled out in 2014, that a lot of people don’t get the standards. So, I’ve been really lucky to have reasons to start understanding them and create stuff around them. Because of all that experience, I have lots of understanding and knowledge of the standards, what they are, and what people can do to use them. I think it’s really important that people start understanding them. It is based on the artistic process. It is what all artists do when they do their work. You are empowering students to understand and go through each of those processes that actual artists do so that when they leave us, they can do these things themselves.
SAMMY MILLER: Beth is talking about the curriculum from a different background. As you think about the jazz curriculum, back to working with Washington middle school and now with jazzed: what should people be thinking about when they’re building a curriculum in jazz?
KC: Well, improvisation has to be centered from the beginning. This generally means getting away from written music, right, as the guiding principle of learning. It means trying to have groups be as mixed as possible, and leaving space for any instrument to join. I feel like if we are getting away from “jazz instruments” as all that we offer, that’s really valuable. And then, music can be fun.
TF: Why do you think programs like Playbook are so important in today’s classroom?
KC: Well, it’s a tool to help kids do. Especially at a time like now, where we could be going digital again. Where we might be hybrid again, where we can actually start to utilize this digital platform and broaden our community. People don’t have to be in Seattle to learn from them. All of that is really great, but also, the way of learning music, where we are boiling it down to four elements for everyone to learn and that is a value that Beth and I really share. If you’re only teaching your trombone players how to play their trombone parts, they’re really going to have a hard time being lifelong music majors, and not engaging with the artistic process. If they can learn how to construct a bass line, and some fundamentals of harmony, and also get to play a melody and be able to jump in and immediately be making and creating and responding with other people, we are setting our students up for success.
Tune in next week to hear from trumpeter and educator Bijon Watson!