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!


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!!!!