Percussion master Norman Freeman shares skills at True Blue Jazz student workshop

Cape High senior receives new sax from generous donor
July 2, 2017

It may be off-season for True Blue Jazz, but the work required to prepare for 2017's True Blue Jazz Festival never stops. The organization has announced a stellar lineup for its fifth annual series in October, and it continues its mission of supporting young musicians year-round.

In May, True Blue Jazz offered a fascinating educational workshop for local high school and middle school students with percussion master Norman Freeman. The focus of the workshop was timpani, with an occasional jump over to the marimbas by Freeman.

With an active bicoastal career and ministry, percussionist and timpanist Norm Freeman is a Yamaha Artist with endorsements from Paiste Cymbals and Alternate Mode, the maker of MalletKAT. He is principal timpanist of The New York Pops, and Artist in Residence at St. John's Cathedral and St. Alban's in Los Angeles, in addition to being an ordained priest.

Freeman has performed on four Grammy-nominated projects, including the Grammy Award-winning New York Philharmonic recording of Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D minor, conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Freeman, a veteran of the Barbra Streisand rhythm section, performed on the "Barbra Streisand - Live in Concert 2006" recording. His musical career includes performances with the New York Philharmonic, Barbra Streisand's 1994, 2006 and 2012 concert tours, and her 2007 and 2013 European tours.

The students attending the workshop were mesmerized for more than 90 minutes as Freeman demonstrated percussion techniques and talked about his experiences in creating a career in the music business. After sharing his insights, "the Rev. Norm" topped off the True Blue Jazz timpani workshop by performing live against audio playback of a portion of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, which was a thrill for the attendees.

True Blue Jazz co-founder Eddie Sherman said, "Introducing our young student musicians to the greatest American art form known as jazz delivers rewarding results. Seeing our jazz students inspired as they mature and move on to university-level studies in music education, or even professional performance careers, brings a tear of joy to our eyes to witness their successes."

Such student events are at the core of the True Blue Jazz mission statement of Preservation Through Performance, which inspires music education programs, hands-on workshops, scholarships and instrument donations, all in the interest of exposing young musicians to the American art form of jazz.

One such instrument donation took place during Memorial Day weekend, when a Cape Henlopen High School senior received a brand-new saxophone gifted by a donor from the Washington, D.C. area. The donor connected with Sherman at last October's TBJ series at Rehoboth's Clear Space Theatre and became an avid supporter of the organization.

On a visit to Rehoboth just before Memorial Day weekend, and upon hearing of a Cape student in need of a horn, the donor provided a new alto sax to the college-bound student. The generous gift symbolized the True Blue Jazz mission, said Sherman, who added, "It's a feel-good thing when a young person realizes someone cares about them and their dreams."

Information and tickets are available now for 2017's True Blue Jazz Festival at


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