School of Jazz

Classic Arts Features   School of Jazz
Jazz at Lincoln Center educates a new generation of jazz lovers.

"Our house is for history‹and the future," says Jazz at Lincoln Center Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis. "We are committed to educating everyone, especially the young people, about the rich heritage of jazz, its great works and musicians, and the impact of jazz on American life."

Education is a top priority at Jazz at Lincoln Center and comprises two-thirds of its overall programming, reaching hundreds of thousands of students, educators, and general audiences members. "Jazz provides a painless way to learn about the best in American culture," says Marsalis. "It can teach geography‹where the different musicians are from. It can help with math‹the way forms are laid out, the way musical forms are counted."

Jazz at Lincoln Center's new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, features the Irene Diamond Education Center, which offers the Louis Armstrong Classroom, the Edward John Noble Foundation Studio, and the 2,300-square-foot Education, Rehearsal, and Recording Studio. Another highlight is the Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame, which illuminates jazz's rich history and honors jazz masters with a multi-media installation. It will induct a new class annually.

Following are highlights of the Jazz at Lincoln Center's education programs:

• The Jazz for Young People Curriculum brings the language of jazz to upper elementary and middle school students worldwide. This multimedia jazz appreciation kit explores core concepts and major figures in jazz through accessible, interactive lessons that demonstrate the rich, cultural heritage of jazz.

• The 2005-06 season includes an expansion in the Jazz for Young People concerts including Tappin' Into Monk, What Is New Orleans Jazz?, Who Is Count Basie?, and Ballet Hispanico with Arturo O'Farrill.

• WeBop! is a new series of music education classes in which children and their parents or caregivers sing, move, and play with the soulful rhythms and melodies of great jazz. Drawing upon the best of America's music and the expertise of early childhood musical development, WeBop! instructors lead children to a greater understanding of jazz and to their national musical heritage. The three age groups are: Stompers (two- to three-year-olds), Syncopators (four- to five-year-olds) and Gumbo Group (two- to five-year-olds).

• Having just finished up another successful season last month, Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival continues its forward momentum. Jazz at Lincoln Center sent more than 60,000 Duke Ellington scores to more than 3,500 schools this season for study and performance through Essentially Ellington. Laura Johnson, Vice President of Education, says, "Ten years ago, Jazz at Lincoln Center put forth a simple idea‹to increase the jazz literacy of high school jazz bands through the production and distribution of original arrangements of Ellington's music, with a competition as the incentive. It worked. Today we are seeing more and more high schools embrace, learn, and perform this music‹the pinnacle of American musical composition. Jazz has a brighter future because of Essentially Ellington."

• The Annual Band Director Academy helps enhance band directors' abilities to teach and conduct the music of Duke Ellington and other big band composers. Led by prominent jazz educators each summer, this four-day program integrates performance, history, pedagogy, and discussion to create an intensive educational experience for teachers at all levels.

• Jazz in the Schools brings professional jazz artists to schools throughout the New York City metropolitan area for interactive performances and demonstrations.

• This year, Jazz at Lincoln Center has partnered with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to develop a new curriculum. The NEA Jazz in the Schools is an educational resource for high school teachers of social studies, U.S. history, and music. The five-unit, Web-based curriculum and DVD tool kit explores jazz as an indigenous American art form and as a means to understanding American history. September 2005 is the launch date for the complete kit.

Marsalis is proud to be joining forces with NEA. "Since our inception, Jazz at Lincoln Center has been committed to creating jazz listeners of all ages through education, concerts, and broadcasts," he notes. "It's our privilege to be working with the National Endowment for the Arts to further this mission, and we're looking forward to reaching a whole new audience‹our American history and social studies teachers and their students. Jazz music gives us a different, more homegrown mythology, with heroes like Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington. Jazz provides a voice for some of our nation's most significant historic events."

• Designed for jazz fans and novices alike, Jazz 101 features both in-depth and general overview classes, held in the Irene Diamond Education Center. Popular jazz lecturer and radio host Phil Schaap discusses the basics of jazz, including such questions as "Why was Edward Ellington called 'Duke'?" and "How did Louis Armstrong revolutionize jazz?" Jazz 101 features a special series of classes on Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and the New Orleans-born virtuoso Louis Armstrong during the 2005-06 season. Loren Schoenberg, executive director of the Jazz Museum in Harlem, will lead these series of exhilarating eight-week classes. Other offerings will include "The Intro" with Dr. Lewis Porter and "Early Gigs: Jazz Pre-History 1880-1920" with Reid Badger.

• The Master Class series returns for its second season featuring Gerald Wilson in From Bebop to Big Band and the amazing Regina Carter, who will tutor in the art of the violin.

• The Middle School Jazz Academy will bring ten promising musicians to Frederick P. Rose Hall for weekly lessons in instrumental jazz and leadership skills.

• Jazz Talk continues its tradition of jazz discussion with Robin D.G. Kelly and Eric Reed covering the finer points of Thelonious Monk. George Wein, Bruce Lundvall, and Farah J. Griffin of Columbia University will discuss everything from the business side of things to hip-hop music.

• Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola contributes to the educational movement with the UPSTARTS! program on Monday nights, where young college-level musicians lock horns with seasoned veterans. For more information, visit

"We are extremely excited about the educational events during the 2005-06 season," says Johnson. "Jazz at Lincoln Center is committed to creating jazz performers and listeners of all ages and to enrich people's lives through music. We want everyone from New York City to Los Angeles to come enjoy, celebrate, and learn about jazz in all its varieties and forms."

Scott H. Thompson is Assistant Director-Public Relations for Jazz at Lincoln Center.

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