With many schools across the country going virtual for the foreseeable future and state and local governments encouraging social distancing, the Institute is deploying its industry-leading educational resources and award-winning teaching staff to support students, parents and educators throughout the United States. Programs like Jazz in the Classroom and the National Performing Arts High Schools initiative are being offered via Zoom to our partner schools in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and beyond. After ramping up in the early phases of the pandemic in spring 2020, these offerings have been updated and enhanced for the 2020-21 academic year, as schools continue to grapple with the challenges of virtual learning and keeping students safely engaged.
Working closely with band directors and music teachers at each school, every online session is tailored to the individual needs of students or ensembles and includes lessons in jazz history and theory, improvisation, transcription, key jazz repertoire and technical skills, including “gap” areas in student knowledge that can be adeptly addressed through virtual learning such as reading and playing syncopated rhythms.
In the lead-up to the academic year, the Institute offered a series of free virtual summer extension programs to learners around the world, based on its acclaimed initiatives BeBop to Hip-Hop and Jazz in America. Apart from giving students of all ages the opportunity to connect virtually with peers, even while observing self-isolation, these special programs continued the Institute’s longstanding mission to highlight the vital contributions of African Americans to art, culture and American life. In light of the ongoing national discussions around racial and social justice, this task has never been more crucial.
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BeBop to Hip-Hop
For more than 15 years, the Institute’s BeBop to Hip-Hop program has brought together jazz and hip-hop students under the direction of professional jazz musicians and hip-hop artists to create a new art form demonstrating the genius of both musical genres. Geared toward aspiring young producers, musicians and rappers, our BeBop to Hip-Hop online summer program connected participating students with top music industry professionals for in-depth feedback and guidance on their original musical creations. Artists such as Imani of the Pharcyde, Terri Lyne Carrington, Antman Wonder, Hi-Tek, Tariq Beats, DJ Spark and others lent their decades of experience to BeBop to Hip-Hop students during summer 2020. Watch the 2020 Virtual Concert & Showcase, which reached over 2 million people worldwide on Facebook and YouTube.
Jazz in America
Recognized around the globe for its rich cultural heritage rooted in the African American experience, jazz is America’s greatest cultural gift to the world. Since 1999, the Institute’s Jazz in America online curriculum for history and social studies classes has been a leader in helping teachers and students across the country understand the enormous historical and cultural significance of this art form. Led by Dr. JB Dyas, Institute Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development, in summer 2020 the Institute offered a series of free eight-session webinar courses for students from grades 4 through 12.
With the generous support of AT&T, both of these free offerings have helped make the summer months an inspiring time for students across the United States and around the world to learn about jazz and connect with others in spite of the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19.