At a reception Sunday, Nov. 17, the Madison Jazz Society awarded grants totaling $9,875 to 21 Wisconsin schools.

Verona Area High School was one of those recipients, receiving a grant of $400.

VAHS instrumental jazz program director Paul Heinecke first began applying for the grant every other year in 2005, and has used the money in a variety of ways over the years.

For the past two years, he has spent the money to bring clinicians into his classroom to work with the students, including Steve Sveum, band and jazz director at Sun Prairie Area School District, and Jim Stombres, a jazz instructor at Birch Creek Music Camps in Egg Harbor, WI.

A few years ago, Heinecke was on the lookout for an upright bass, and used the grant money to purchase one. Earlier this year, he had a student who didn’t know how to play bass, but knew how to play cello.

Heinecke sent the upright bass home with the student over summer, and now, “he’s really cranking it out,” he said.

The VAHS Jazz Band will perform as the opening act for an MJS concert on Sunday, April 19. The society will be hosting both regional and national jazz artists at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Fitchburg.

The society awards grants to schools annually to fund music programs designed to help students learn about and perform jazz music. This year’s grants brings the total amount the society has awarded to over $137,000 since beginning the program in 1989.

“The Jazz Society have been very good to us and this is a great way to give them thanks,” Heinicke said.

Contact Neal Patten, Verona Community Reporter at neal.patten@wcinet.com.