What We Do


At Jazz House Kids, we believe that learning to understand, create and love jazz—this great American art form–-reaps lifelong benefits that every child deserves to enjoy.

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 even our office, and you’ll find music in the air!

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 our year-round 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.

 

In the schools

  • 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 free 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.

 

At the Jazz House

  • Our Jazz House music studio in Montclair serves a diverse group of students ages 8 to 18, from 45 communities across New Jersey. (We teach adults and toddlers, too!) We offer need-based, sliding-scale tuition for more than 30% of our students to ensure their participation. Our 20 weekly instrumental and vocal classes for students of all levels are set up as ensembles, so that students not only learn to play their instruments, solo and improvise, but also collaborate with other musicians. Their instructors are some of the best professional jazz musicians in the tri-state area. One hundred percent of our 12th graders go on to attend college, with students receiving well over $1 million in scholarships to date.
  • The Jazz House Big Band, led by Julius Tolentino, and supported by RS Berkeley Musical Instruments, makes a mighty sound! This pre-professional group—comprising our most advanced student players—has taken home numerous awards from national competitions, and many members have gone on to study music at prestigious institutions, including The Juilliard School, Northwestern University, Manhattan School of Music, and Oberlin College.
  • Jazz House Summer Workshop: Every summer, 150 students from New Jersey and beyond gather in Montclair for an intense, exhilarating, two-week immersion in jazz training, playing and listening with 25 top jazz professionals! 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 45,000 students, and these students have performed before half a million enthusiastic fans.

 

Events and Community Programs

  • 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, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Monty Alexander and Joe Lovano. Check out our web page for information on this year’s fest!
  • Emerging Musicians Community Concerts (EMC2). Accomplished Jazz House students are invited to perform in our Emerging Musicians Community Concerts series. Our students entertain thousands of people at 80 annual events and earn money to help with family obligations and college savings.
  • 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. At Jazz House Kids, we believe that learning to love, understand, and create jazz—this great American art form–reaps lifelong benefits that every child deserves to enjoy. These four pillars guide our work and help shape lives and set the stage for the development of community leaders and global citizens.  

Today, Jazz House Kids is a highly-respected and nationally-recognized arts education organization. Close to 50,000 students have participated in our programs since 2002. We participate in over 80 community performances a year and each summer we produce the Montclair Jazz Festival, which is free and open to the public. Last year, 8,000 people attended. We are now seeing the legacy of our work through our alums who are truly the rising new generation of jazz musicians and engaged citizens.  We foster an artistic edge ensure that every one of our students has access to music, education, mentoring, and apprenticeship.

Jazz House Kids has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s preeminent arts education and performance organizations. Our mission is to transform young lives and open doors to the future by offering pre-professional, year-round musical training along with community engagement and education programs for K-12 students from diverse backgrounds. Internationally renowned jazz performers teach alongside our professional staff, offering students a wide range of creative programming that develops musical potential, enhances leadership and life skills, and strengthens academic performance. Through music, mentoring, education and apprenticeship, Jazz House Kids cultivates tomorrow’s global citizens so they may build vibrant communities.


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