NCJF Jazz Education




This year NCJF we had seven master classes in violin, bass, guitar, trumpet, trombone, woodwinds, and percussion for local music students. Many students look forward to doing these classes with our all star musicians! We also had over fifty students from these master classes attend the jazz festival that evening!

Masterclasses are held on every year at the downtown Hilton Wilmington Riverside during our festival. The NCJF world class musicians give music students 2 FREE hours of teaching in a small setting. Twenty (20) students are selected for each class. Names will be listed as received, on a first-come basis. Once the Class List is full, all other incoming names will be added to the Reserve List, again, in order of receipt.

Contact Laura Crane for more information


Jonathan was amazing! He always works on some cool stuff that Anne and I wouldn’t normally teach, so it’s nice for the kids to do something different……
I appreciate so much this opportunity. It is an amazing thing that you guys do for the community. It surprises me that more people don’t take advantage of these classes!
Thanks so much! Until next year!
~ Shelly (violin teacher and volunteer who has her some of students take the masterclass)

Matthew had a great time with Bruce in the class (trumpet masterclass)… His only comment was that the class should have been longer. . . 2 hours was too short for him.
~ Anne Orwig

Joseph Hulett, Orchestra Director at Roland Grise Middle, stated, “having the NC Jazz Festival perform at our school this year was an incredible experience for our students. My bass players were all incredibly excited to learn about how their instrument could be more than just an orchestral instrument. They became very interested and asked many questions about Jazz after the performance. Likewise there were even a few violin players who wanted to know more about it after the performance. All of my students enjoyed the performance and we even had a small theory based class about jazz because of their interest. We would love to see the NC Jazz Festival continue to visit us here at Roland-Grise Middle School.”

Cindy Talbert, Principal of Snipes Academy of Arts and Design wrote: “ The majority of our students are not exposed to cultural opportunities in our community. For this reason, we truly value having the jazz performances. The musicians are always so knowledgeable and are able to present the instructional piece about their performance, which is just as important as the performance itself. As a school of the arts, we are always searching for our students to benefit from community cultural resources. We have found one for sure…the NC Jazz Festival! Thank you for continuing to partner with us at Snipes Academy of Arts and Design.”

We took our musicians to two local schools where they gave concert/workshops to a total of over 500 students! 75 young musicians took part in our free master classes, 55 of them stayed for the Friday night concert, at no charge. This was all made possible by donations from our attendees and grants from The Landfall Foundation and the NC Council of the Arts Grassroots Program.
Our thanks go to them!

7 of our NCJF All-stars, under the leadership of Dion Tucker, went to Snipes Academy of Art & Design, where they performed for about 300 2nd thru 5th graders. Dion explained that the instruments, like musicians, came from many different parts of the world. Drums from Africa, piano from Europe, strings and horns from other areas of Europe and Asia- and like the musicians, who came to our country to play JAZZ, our truly American Musical heritage, they unite to make music. He introduced the musicians & their instruments. Anita Thomas said “G’day! I am an immigrant from Australia and I brought a didgereedoo, which is a musical instrument played by the native Australian Aborigini”. At that point she began to blow some interesting sounds which led the group into Duke Ellington’s “Caravan”. This clip captures the sounds of the didgereedoo, but my camera ran out of space before they got really into the number. It was a spectacular experience for the students, one that I am sure they won’t forget.

Our other 7 all star musicians, led by Adrian Cunningham, went to Roland Grise middle school. There was about 250 excited students that attended! The musicians each took a turn to explain about the instrument that they played and its role in jazz. Our piano player Rossano Sportiello, an Italian immigrant, expressed how American jazz influenced him as a youngster. He encouraged the students to cherish and appreciate American jazz as it is their music! Well said! Adrian Cunningham talked about how each musician knows the standard songs of jazz and that they did not rehearse before coming. He talked about the importance of the rhythm section and the front line. It was a great concert and the jazz musicians were well received by the students!!!


The NCJF is excited to collaborate with our local Brigade Boys and Girls Club. In November, Doug Irving, local musician and bassist, along with other local musicians,will perform and educate students about jazz-an American art form! We are thrilled to inspire the next generation of jazz enthusiasts! In 1896, five boys gathered at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church for the first meeting of the Wilmington Boys’ Brigade, a new club started by Colonel Walker Taylor. A prominent Wilmington businessman and civic leader, Taylor was eager to serve the troubled youth of Wilmington and to help them discover and develop their talents. Today, more than 2,400 local youth are served by the Brigade Boys & Girls Club.

cfccNCJF has also made a donation to Cape Fear Community College Jazz Scholarship program. Local musician and saxophonist Benny Hill, -started the scholarship fund and is passionate about preserving jazz music. Benny Hill and his quartet opened our festival in 2015! This is a local community college with a growing jazz program. What a great opportunity to educate and inspire the next generation in our community.

master1This year we had a concert at DC Virgo Middle school. There were about 100 students in attendance. Performing for the students were Herman Burney, Bria Skonberg, Jim Fryer, Adrian Cunningham, Nate Najar, and Quentin Baxter. The students were thoroughly entertained by the musicians. Each of the musicians spoke of jazz as compared to being on a sports team where each player knows their position. Bria explained that even though they did not practice beforehand they are able to perform as a band because they all know the jazz standards and that is the beauty of jazz! Will Smith, the band director, was thrilled at his students enthusiasm and curiosity about jazz. The students asked great questions of the musicians and even greeted them afterwards to check out the instruments up close! Thank you to DC Virgo Middle school and faculty for inviting us to perform.


At noon on Friday six of our All-Star musicians, under the leadership of trombonist Dion Tucker, gave a concert/workshop to their third, fourth and fifth grades.
During the opening , Wilmington Arts Council Director Rhonda Bellamy presented NCJF President Sandy Evans with a check for the grant awarded to the North Carolina Jazz Festival in order to make our Jazz Education Program possible.
Following that presentation, the musicians spoke to the students musically and verbally about their instruments and the music we call Jazz. They spoke about where it began and who some of the early jazz artists were. During the question and answer period the musicians were surprised at how well prepared the students were by the “in depth” answers they gave to some of their questions and the questions that the students asked the musicians! Obviously the school had been looking forward to this visit and the teachers had given the students the background that that made the musical presentation all the more meaningful!
As you can see from the photos, students and musicians had a “jazzy good time”!
This was our first visit to an elementary school and we are so pleased that we chose Snipes, as the enthusiasm of the administration and the students was inspiring!
“I appreciate your providing our students with such an awesome performance of fabulous musicians—they provided some instruction as well! Our students’ high interest and level of participation made me so proud! Please continue to partner with Snipes Academy!” a quote taken from the thank you note from Snipes principal, Cindy Talbert.

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Masterclass reviews:
-What an incredible event! Thank you so much for all you do to make these masterclasses happen for these kids. The inspiration that takes place in just 2 hours is incredible to watch and I see that inspiration continue throughout the year. We are already looking forward to next year.
Take care and I hope to see you soon,
Anne Stohl-violin teacher/parent

-Just wanted to say congratulations on an awesome lineup and a great festival our kids really enjoyed it ,me too ! Roger Davis-Dreams teacher

-Claire Viadro & David Valleroy: On their sons Logan and Casey taking the master classes and participating in the Patrons brunch: The boys loved meeting Chuck Redd and Jonathan Russell and thoroughly enjoyed performing with Chuck and Herman Burney on the big stage. Your festival is clearly a peak event for jazz enthusiasts in this region, and we look forward to experiencing it again in future years.

Special thank you to Mark Robbins, George Ball and Herman Burney for taking great photos of our festival! You make us look great!!!!