Peer to Peer Program

Through the Institute’s Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Tours, gifted student musicians from the National Performing Arts High Schools program present weeklong tours for their peers in other cities. The student musicians are accompanied by distinguished guest artists including vocalist Lisa Henry, saxophonists Antonio Hart and Bobby Watson, guitarist Kevin Eubanks, trumpeters Ingrid Jensen, Ambrose Akinmusire and Terell Stafford, pianists Herbie Hancock and Gerald Clayton, and bassist Christian McBride.

While the COVID-19 pandemic preempted the Peer-to-Peer Tours planned for the 2020-2021 school year, in April 2021 the Institute offered a free virtual jazz informance for students and educators across the United States and around the world, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education. The session was co-hosted by Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and featured performances by the Institute’s 2021 National Peer-to-Peer Jazz Septet. To date, the recording has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube. Learn more

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Program Information

On each day of the Peer-to-Peer tour, the musicians present an informance (informational performance) for the entire student body at a different school. They play various styles of jazz and talk with the student audiences about what jazz is, why it is important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. Throughout each presentation, the student musicians and guest artists provide further insight into important values that jazz represents: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion for something early in life and being persistent.

Following each informance, the guest instrumental artist presents a jazz workshop for the host school’s jazz band in which the visiting student performers play alongside their like-instrument counterparts, providing hands-on tutelage peer-to-peer. At the same time, the guest vocalist presents a vocal jazz workshop for the school’s choir. Each tour also includes public concerts at local jazz clubs or other performance venues, giving the touring student ensembles invaluable experience performing with renowned artists while developing jazz audiences for the future.

Since 2005, Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Tours have been presented in Anchorage, Austin, Berkeley, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Honolulu, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Oakland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco and Seattle. Each year, the program has resonated with students and adults alike.

In 2019, Institute students from the nation’s leading public performing arts high schools visited schools across America. Our high school jazz all-stars, including talented students from Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Newark, introduced the Peer-to-Peer program to thousands of public school students in Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Vermont. While teaching their peers, the touring student musicians received helpful instruction from jazz greats Sean Jones, Lisa Henry and Steve Wilson, and performed at prestigious jazz venues including Blue in Portland, Maine and the UCO Jazz Lab in Edmund, Oklahoma. Lead funding for the 2019 Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Tours was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.