AJM and Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation Team Up

For Immediate Release

January 31, 2018 

Marissa Baum

American Jazz Museum and Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation Team Up to Expand jazz Education to Youth Across the Urban Core

Kansas City, MO – The American Jazz Museum is expanding its Kansas City Jazz Academy by launching a partnership with the Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation’s Kansas City Arts Outreach an established music education program with mission similar to that of the Museum’s Jazz Academy. This new partnership will kick off at the beginning of the Academy’s Spring Semester, on February 3rd at 1:00pm at the American Jazz Museum.

The Kansas City Jazz Academy (KCJA), the museum’s most comprehensive music education program, completed its first year in May 2017. The program was successful in bringing 150 K-12 students together every Saturday for hands-on classes in Big Band, Combos, Improvisation, and more. The instructors of KCJA use the Orff Method, which addresses the basic concepts of music through speaking, chanting, singing, dancing, movement, acting, and playing percussion instruments. Beginning in 2018, KCJA will be led by Mr. Clarence Smith, who oversees the music department at the Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley campus, where he directs a jazz combo and jazz ensemble, and teaches percussion, music appreciation, and jazz history. He has also been a director of the Kansas City Youth Jazz program for seven years.

Through this partnership, the toddler and elementary Academy students will have access to a new, innovative curriculum, created and proven successful by Mr. Greg Richter and Ms. Willa Eaton, who will be teaching the toddler and elementary classes each Saturday. KCJA will serve as continued access to quality music education for many students who have previously benefit from programming through the Eddie Baker School of Music, which ended its programs last year. The pipeline created by the structure of the Kansas City Jazz Academy ensures students beginning at even the youngest age, will have professional music education as they learn and grow, all the way through high school.

Ms. Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum emphasizes the importance of music in childhood development, stating “Music is essential to the development and the success of all children in our communities. However, children in low-income communities especially do not have easy access to the arts due to lack of programs in the schools, affordability of available initiatives, cultural relevance, transportation challenges, conflicting priorities for families, convenience and accessibility of programs.”

The Kansas City Jazz Academy was created to offer kids in low-income communities the opportunity to access a high quality and culturally relevant music education program. Kositany-Buckner elaborates, “Because Kansas City is one of the cradles of Jazz, it was important for us to have a program that taught not only the skills and knowledge of playing Jazz but also the history of the art form and the African American community at 18th and 12th and Vine that was the center of the Jazz Age. For kids in challenged communities to thrive as innovators, musicians, doctors, engineers, physicists, economists, astronauts and much more, they need the arts and kids in Kansas City specifically need Jazz.”

The KCJA invites full community participation by welcoming all students, regardless of age or ability; students do not need to audition in order to be enrolled. Students are welcome to bring their own instruments to the classes, but any child who does not have his or her own instrument is given one to use free of charge. This is made possible by in-kind contributions from the Yamaha Corporation.