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Michelle Obama Hosts White House Jazz Studio

5090192First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off a White House music series Monday with a Jazz Studio, honoring her commitment to the arts.

The first lady hosted 150 middle and high school jazz students in the East Wing. The students participated in workshops. Led by famous jazz musicians such as the Marsalis family, the seminars focused on the influence American history had on jazz, improvisation through jazz styles, and the influence of Duke Ellington.

"Today's event exemplifies what the White House, the people's house, should be about. This is a place to honor America's past, celebrate its present and create its future," Obama said in a speech concluding the day's activities. "And what better example of this is than jazz, America's indigenous art form."

Obama applauded jazz as a democratic art form and considers it "America's greatest artistic gift to the world."

"There's probably no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble; individual freedom but with responsibility to the group," Obama said.

Eighteen-year-old former Los Angeles County High School for the Arts student Sammy Miller told the LA Times earlier today that working with legendary musicians was an honor.

"Usually when I'm learning jazz, I learn it from people who are great teachers, but these guys who we're going to be working with are some of the creators of jazz," he said. "To get a chance to work with them is beyond rare."

Playing the drums since he was five, Miller also expressed his appreciation for the White House's attention to the music genre.

"It's great that jazz can be honored in a workshop setting at a national level," he said. "Jazz usually doesn't get much recognition, but having the president recognize it in such a way is beyond amazing."

Including an anecdote about her childhood, Obama said that her grandfather had jazz playing "twenty four hours a day at the highest volume" as she grew up.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

First daughters Sasha and Malia also attended the event in the first lady's attempt to "keep them alive and aware of other kinds of music other than hip-hop." They are pictured above with the first lady.

Obama praised the students as "future guardians of music" in her speech, stating that she's counting on them to keep the music vital and evolving for generations to come."

After her speech, legendary jazz musician Paquito D'Rivera performed accompanied by four young musicians including fourteen year old pianist Tony Madruga.

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

"We need the new generation to come and play music with us," D'Rivera said, advocating for youth music education and introducing his accompanists. He is pictured above (left), with Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

The White House will continue the music series later this year, focusing on the country and classical genres.

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