Spring Valley Jazz Camp Hits the Right Notes


The first rule of Intergenerational Jazz Camp is there are no rules. Well, at least not theoretically.

“I can’t do that?” a student asks.

“Well that’s not what I asked you to do, but you can, because it’s jazz,” answered Adam Tinkle, the University of California San Diego Ph.D. student leading the Spring Valley Community Center’s week-long intensive jazz camp.

“There is no sheet music,” said Tinkle. “It’s all improv, learning by ear, individual creativity and giving kids a sense of ownership over the music.

“It’s all about getting the music inside them.”

As an example during the camp, Tinkle asked the students if they ever saw a band on MTV using sheet music. The obvious answer was ‘no’.

“If you use sheet music, you do what it tells you to do, and you don’t learn the song,” he said.

“Hopefully these kids take away the ability to play by ear and develop a passion for the music.”

The jazz camp is a one-week musical adventure for students in 6th through 8th grades from nearby La Presa Middle School.

“About one-third of the kids are graduates of our Children’s Universal Language Orchestra (for kids ages 8-12) and about two-thirds of them are referred by the band director at La Presa,” said Tinkle.

It’s just one of the many cultural and intergenerational offerings at the Spring Valley Community Center. There are dance classes for all ages, intergenerational book clubs and math programs, health and fitness offerings and even three summer day camps for ages 5-14.

“One of the visions we have, since we serve all ages, is intergenerational activities,” said Renell Nailon, community center director. “We base all our programs on County initiatives and try to help create a safe, thriving community.

“We really try to involve our seniors.”

Another focus for the community center is health and fitness. The center offers everything from tumbling for toddlers to Zumba, karate, basketball leagues and intergenerational workouts in the park.

“We really concentrate on healthy families,” Nailon said. “We promote health fairs, senior nutrition and our intergenerational health and fitness alliance.

“The Spring Valley is a vibrant and diverse community, and that’s something we’re really proud of.”

To see all the programs offered at the Spring Valley Recreation center, click here.

To check out all the programs offered by the San Diego County Parks and Recreation Department, click here.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact