We know that music creates bonds and builds communities. That’s why everything we do is suffused with jazz. Step into our rehearsal rooms, an in-school program, one of our events, or just our office, and you’ll always find something in the air: great music!
In schools, at our Jazz House studio, and within the larger communities where we work, we’ve built circles of enthusiastic students, dedicated staff, first-rate professional teaching artists, supporters, and friends.
We also believe in jazz as a tremendous teaching tool. Through jazz education and performance programs, we teach children ages 8 to18 to become lifelong learners, communicators and innovators. As students practice on their instruments, rehearse with their ensembles, and interact with instructors trained to teach and mentor them, they develop important 21st century skills: confidence, perseverance, focus, collaboration, dedication, accountability, and an openness to constructive feedback. These skills are essential for all students as they transition to adulthood and become successful, contributing members of their communities.
We put these beliefs into practice in a variety of ways and places.
- Jazz House Kids teaching artists—professional musicians at the top of their game who have strong teaching skills—go into underserved New Jersey schools every day, providing programming and world-class instruction, support, and mentorship to students who otherwise would not have access to this level of musical training. Our programs in underserved communities help bridge the gap in music education and place students on a level playing field.
We currently operate in 11 schools, teaching more than 500 students annually.
- Through our Give An Instrument, Build a Musician Fund, we place instruments in the hands of kids sitting on the sidelines and enable them to join their school bands. In fact, we provide more than $50,000 in instruments to students annually, as well as master classes to further boost their abilities and interest.
- Our Jazz House music studio in Montclair serves a diverse group of students ages 8 to 18, from 35 school districts across the region. (We teach adults, too!) We offer need-based scholarship support to 40% of our students, and we never turn a student away. Our instrumental and vocal classes for students of all levels are set up as ensembles, so that students not only learn to play their instruments, but to solo, improvise, and most important, collaborate with other musicians. Their instructors are some of the best professional jazz musicians in the tri-state area.
- The Jazz House Big Band, led by Julius Tolentino, and supported by RS Berkeley Musical Instruments, makes a mighty sound! This college preparatory group—comprising our most advanced student players—has taken home numerous awards from Big Band competitions, and many members have gone on to study music at prestigious institutions, including the Juilliard School of Music, Northwestern University, Manhattan School of Music, and Oberlin College. One hundred percent of our 12th graders go on to attend college.
- Jazz House Summer Workshop: Every summer, 100+ students from New Jersey and beyond gather in Montclair for an intense and exhilarating two-week immersion in jazz training, playing, and listening! The Workshop culminates with performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, and at our annual Montclair Jazz Festival.
Our in-school and Jazz House studio programs have served more than 30,000 students, and these students have performed before half a million enthusiastic fans.
- Montclair Jazz Festival Every August, our free, daylong, soak-up-some-sun jazz festival attracts thousands of neighbors and jazz fans. We feature our students, instructors, and such celebrity guests as Christian McBride, Monty Alexander, and Joe Lovano. Check out our web page for information on this year’s fest!
- I Love Jazz Week. We mark Jazz Appreciation Month and International Jazz Day with a week of exciting programs, lectures, and concerts the entire community can enjoy. We aim to strengthen connections and spread the joy of jazz.
- Our fundraisers are no rubber-chicken banquets—they’re swinging affairs! But we party with a purpose: By playing for our guests, students from the Jazz House and the schools we serve gain real-life gigging experience that both showcases their hard work and provides lessons in teamwork, responsibility, and professional behavior.
Student and adult musicians, educators, families, fans—there’s a place for everyone at the Jazz House. We invite you to join our community.