Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute has deployed its industry-leading educational resources and award-winning teaching staff to support virtual learning for students, parents and educators throughout the United States. Programs like Jazz in the Classroom and the National Performing Arts High Schools initiative have been 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. Currently, the Institute is working closely with teachers and officials at each of its partner schools to offer instruction that meets student needs while also adhering to all public health policies in the relevant school district.
As with the Institute’s in-person instruction, 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, as well as “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 2020-2021 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.
In April 2021, the Institute presented a special virtual informance in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, hosted by Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Titled “What Is Jazz, And Why It Is Important to The World,” the free educational program included a concise introduction to the significance and history of jazz delivered by Institute Vice President of Education and Curriculum Development Dr. JB Dyas, an exclusive Q&A with Herbie Hancock and Secretary Cardona, and several virtual performances by the Institute’s 2021 National Peer-to-Peer All-Star Jazz Septet. The program was conducted live via Zoom and is available for on-demand viewing on YouTube.
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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 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.