Jazz is recognized around the world for its rich cultural heritage rooted in the African-American experience. Since its inception in the early 20th century, jazz has contributed to and been a reflection of American culture and is widely considered to be the only truly original American art form. Yet, most Americans graduate from high school with little knowledge of the history or importance of jazz. In order to provide a “hands on” educational experience about jazz for our nation's students, the Jazz Education Ensemble has developed a live, interactive, jazz curriculum featuring live performances as well as music classes for students of all ages. Our goal is to be able to offer jazz instruction and education to our nation’s youth, on a national basis and free of charge to students and their parents or guardians.

Along with training and providing opportunities for the next generation of jazz artists to enjoy performing, the Jazz Education Ensemble is dedicated to developing jazz audiences for the future and enriching lives in the process. Our mission is to help incorporate jazz history into public elementary, middle, and high school social studies and American history classes beginning with San Francisco Bay Area schools and expanding beyond as time and resources allow.


















                                       Jazz Education Ensemble vocalist Miko Marks performs with student musicians at Thornhill Elementary School


Our performances include three main components:

1) Story telling the chronological history of jazz from the early 1900’s through current times

2) Musical performances of jazz tunes from each period during the development of jazz
3) Student participation allowing music students and non-music students alike to perform on stage and in the audience along with professional jazz musicians   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In addition to our educational concerts the Jazz Education Ensemble offers beginning jazz classes to elementary school students.

The curriculum is taught during 45-minute classes that have been designed to be either stand-alone music instruction courses or a integral components of social studies courses. Each set of the age-appropriate lesson plans presents an historical overview, examines characteristics of various jazz styles, and highlights contributions of important performers and composers. Most importantly, they underscore the social, economic, and political contexts within which jazz evolved, providing an additional and engaging modality for the study of American History. Each lesson highlights interdisciplinary connections among content areas, promoting interdisciplinary instruction and stimulating further communication among educators, students, parents, and the public. 

 While helping to create a greater understanding of and appreciation for jazz and its contribution to and reflections of American culture, the Jazz Education Ensemble also provides insight into such intangibles as teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the American spirit. The study of jazz helps students develop a better understanding of and respect for this country's diverse cultural heritage. And, perhaps, there is no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble -- individual freedom but with responsibility to the group. 




















                                    Ensemble members Eje' Lynn-Jacobs, Justin Hawkins (top row). Tom Kyrimis, Bob Jacobs & John Kainlauri (bottom row).


By combining various resources with our own insight and knowledge we have compiled comprehensive classes that include:

  • a complete teacher's manual
  • individual step-by-step lesson plans with all pertinent content easily downloadable student handouts related American history and social studies essays
  • complete test banks/assessments featuring multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, true-false, matching, and essay questions
  • audio snippets of historically significant jazz recordings
  • important jazz videos, photographs, and other visual images
  • a complete jazz resource library including:

          1) a glossary of jazz terms and common jargon

          2) a discography, bibliography, videography and jazz charts
          3) a bio and selected recordings for over 300 jazz musicians

          4) a chronological jazz timeline                                                                                                                                                                                            

​          5) a jazz education component with information on most college and university jazz program in the US and Canada
          6) elements of jazz audio files
          7) access to other jazz and social studies educational websites


The mission of the Jazz Education Ensemble is to offer public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the globe, helping students develop imaginative thinking, creativity, curiosity, a positive self image, and a respect for their own and others' cultural heritage.

 For the past few years we have performed inspirational, fun and educational concerts at Thornhill Elementary School in Oakland. Our goal for 2017 is to perform four concerts at four different public schools in the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area. The first has been scheduled at Thornhill Elementary for May 25th at 2:00 pm. The principal has agreed to supplement a small portion of our expenses for the May concert by using funds from the school’s Parent Faculty Association, an option that most schools in the area do not have. Please see his letter below in support of our efforts.

 However the reality is that most public schools don’t have the resources to pay anything at all, certainly not funds required to support concerts performed by world-class musicians such as the Jazz Education Ensemble. Therefore in order to fulfill our mission of performing four concerts we are seeking funding to help cover travel and performance expenses in the amount of $8,000.00, some of which will also help support supplies such as sheet music and manuscripts for our Beginning Jazz Classes.



For additional details please contact Robert Jacobs:

    Leon Joyce, Jr. performs with the Jazz Education Ensemble at Thornhill Elementary School

                       Sign Up For Beginning Jazz Classes here: 

Jazz Education Ensemble

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