By Alaina Milazzo
Even as a child living in Albstadt, Germany, Monika Herzig wanted to prove her love and devotion to music.
“I was just attracted to those keys, but we didn’t have a piano,” Herzig said. “So I had to learn to play the Melodica. I had to hit those keys just to prove to (my parents) that I was serious. Then we bought a piano, and I got to substitute for the church organist, too, which was a great opportunity.”
After showcasing her talents to her parents and church, Herzig attended the pedagogical institute in Weingarten, Germany.
In 1988, Herzig and her now-husband left for America when she qualified for an exchange program with the University of Alabama.
Once Herzig received her master’s degree, she then attended IU for her doctorate in music education and jazz from the Jacobs School of Music — and never left.
“We decided to stay in Bloomington because we loved the town and the network we had created,” Herzig said.
She is now a faculty member at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs teaching courses in the music industry, community arts, creative thinking techniques with incorporated group jazz and programming for the performing arts.
Herzig is currently collaborating with other world-renowned female performers in her project The Whole World in Her Hands.
Herzig is using Indiegogo, a crowd-funding platform, to gain monetary support for “recouping costs from the project,” along with supporting female jazz players.
“(The campaign is going) too slow for my taste,” Herzig said, jokingly. “It’s very difficult to get people’s attention and commitment. We only hear about the success stories but rarely about the hard work it involves.”
Herzig’s Indiegogo campaign began Oct. 6 and will end Dec. 1. She encouraged listeners to visit monikaherzig.com and igg.me/at/monika for more information and to discover other ways to support her campaign, which focuses on promoting female jazz musicians through a CD release.
IDS How did you become interested in jazz?
HERZIG Well, when you’re a teenager you always have to play that piano by yourself. I was trying to find a way where I could (play) in a band or a group. So I had the chance to join some groups, then went to a summer jazz camp (in Germany) and got hooked.
IDS When did you come to America from Germany?
HERZIG That was in 1988 for an exchange program with the University of Alabama. I got my master’s there and then I came to IU for my doctorate.
IDS What made you choose IU and the Jacobs School?
HERZIG David Baker was one of the big attractions at that time. I actually had seen him in Germany when he led one of the camps close to our hometown. I wanted to do a doctoral program where I could have a lot of access to jazz, and IU had one.
IDS How did that schooling inspire you to become not only a jazz artist but a teacher as well?
HERZIG Jazz is a tough field these days, and my husband is a (jazz) player, too. So with raising a family on top of that, there’s always a variety of things that I’m doing. And I’ve always loved teaching about music education. In fact, all my degrees are in that field.
IDS Along with teaching and performing, you’re directing the Indiegogo Campaign. What exactly is this project?
HERZIG Well, on my last two CDs, I worked for a traditional label that paid for everything — the production, distribution. But these labels don’t exist anymore, and the amount that any label can provide is just getting less and less. So, crowd-funding is one of the current ways to make this possible. It’s saying, “Hey, I have this project. I want to do this.” And if you (as the listener) think it’s a good thing, instead of waiting for the work to be produced, why don’t you go ahead and pre-order it?
IDS Where do female musicians like you fit into the campaign?
HERZIG I’m gathering the leading female jazz instrumentalists for recording and videotaping.
The goal is to have an audio product as a documentary of the process, since female musicians have low participation in jazz. It will open more opportunities, create role models and just draw attention to the issue of low female numbers.
IDS How do you think this campaign will help female jazz musicians?
HERZIG There are many hidden hurdles for female jazz instrumentalists. Role models are missing, so it is still rare for female instrumentalists to decide to pursue a career as a jazz musician. The goal of this project is to showcase some of the amazing women who managed to overcome these hurdles in order to create role models.
© Indiana Daily Student 2014