NCJF Jazz Education

The North Carolina Jazz Festival sponsored the Sea Pans-Vince Stout, Will Chicon, Perry Smith, and Troy Pierce, to play at the Brigade Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington.
Sea Pans was our local act who opened for our 2017 NC Jazz Festival. The students love the “Jazz ala Trinidad” and were intrigued by the drum barrels and the different sounds it made.
The students and the teachers loved the island jazzy sounds and some even danced in their seats! Vince Stout showed and explained the scales on the drum pan to the students which ranges from high notes to low notes.

During our 2018 festival, Cynthia Sayer, along with Debbie Kennedy and Ed Polcer, will perform jazz for GLOW (Girls Leadership Academy of Wilmington), a new high school that opened in 2016. GLOW prepares high school students for successful college admission. This will be a great opportunity to introduce JAZZ to these young ladies, and to hopefully ignite an appreciation for jazz! It will be an incredible showcase of live music by professional musicians and educators. We hope to enlighten the next generation to jazz music!




In 2017 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! In 2018 we will add a jazz vocal master class, which will be given by Debbie Kennedy.

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!!!





Masterclass reviews:
I found that being in Herman Burney’s masterclass very fun and informative. We worked on learning the melody and chord changes to a blues song. After that we all took turns improvising over the changes and received feedback from Mr. Burney. It was an awesome experience.
Ramon Garcia – bass student

When I was in the 6th grade at Roland Grise Middle school musicians from the North Carolina Jazz Festival came to play at my school, and explained to all of us how in jazz the instruments have a conversation with each other to create the sound we know as jazz. This helped me look at jazz in a new light, and imagine the conversations among the different instruments as they were playing. This was the most exposure to jazz many of my peers had, and sparked interest for many of them, especially the kids in the orchestra and band. One year later Jonathan Russell came and played at our school as part of the jazz ensemble, and everyone was amazed by his skill and age. Later when I told my class I was leaving early to take a free masterclass with Jonathan. There were gasps of shock and amazement all around me, they looked up to the musicians with great awe. That first masterclass introduced me to improvising, something I never knew I was capable of, and playing by ear. This class had a great effect on my stylistic interpretation of music, encouraging me to add my own flare to solo music. After the class the students were given the opportunity to have free tickets for the concert that night so that they could understand how what they learned in the masterclass could be applied to playing collaborative music. Two masterclasses later, I am now a senior at Hoggard High School and still enjoy the masterclasses as much as I did the first time, and take something new away each time. I look forward to the 2018 violin masterclass and the evening concert.
Marissa E. – violin student

-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

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


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.