By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– World famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed in Civic Center Park on Thursday along with Isaac Slade of The Fray and local students to raise awareness for the statewide initiative Take Note Colorado.

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Yo Yo Ma (credit: CBS)

“It’s definitely a unique experience I’ll never forget,” said Jaren Jackson, 14, an incoming freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School. “It felt pretty good.”

Jaren Jackson (credit: CBS)

Ma is touring the world to bring attention to issues that he cares about including food justice, homeless advocacy, immigrant rights, affordable housing, and music education. He kicked off the two-year trip in Denver and wanted to help Take Note Colorado.

Yo Yo Ma with Isaac Slade (credit: CBS)

“Which other group says we want to give instruments to every single person in this state,” he said in between performances at the Greek Theater.

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The goal of the initiative is to make Colorado the first station in the country to provide every child that wants access to a music education with the instruments and tools they need.

Isaac Slade of The Fray (credit: CBS)

One of the supporters from the beginning of this program is the rock singer Slade. He also performed on stage with Ma at the kick-off event for the cello player’s day of listening events in Denver and Aurora. A chance to go to different neighborhoods and talk to people about the issues he’s advocating for around the world.

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LINK: Take Note Colorado

“Yo-Yo Ma is just an incredibly talented person and his personality is even better,” said Jackson. “Isaac, I feel like, he’s so cool, and honestly he could hang out with me if he wanted to.”

Yo Yo Ma (credit: CBS)

The handful of students that shared the stage with these performers or even accompanied them in a performance say were so appreciative of the time they got with them. A group of French horn performers from the University of Colorado also joined the event.

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“Music is my life. I don’t think I could live without music. It’s been a part of everything I’ve ever been in,” said Jackson. “I feel like music helps me block out everything else and focus on what’s really important.”

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He was glad to be a part of the effort to help more students experience what he has already in middle school and now in high school. He hopes to be a famous musician one day and keep pursuing his dream of a career in the recording industry. But he knows even if someone does not have the same goals, music can help them go far in their careers.

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“It gives you personality, it helps you discover who you are and what you want to do,” he said. “Music education gives everybody that opportunity to be able to learn.”

Yo Yo Ma (credit: CBS)

CBS4 is a proud partner of the Take Note Colorado program. You can learn more about the initiative at The campaign is looking for support from music education advocates across the state.

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Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.