The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, a nonprofit education organization, was founded in 1986 by the Monk family and the late Maria Fisher, an opera singer and lifelong devotee of music. Its mission is to offer the world's most promising young musicians college level training by internationally acclaimed jazz masters and to present public school-based jazz education programs for young people around the world. All of these programs are offered free of charge to the students and schools, filling a tremendous void in arts education. The Institute's programs encourage children to develop imaginative thinking, creativity, curiosity, a positive self-image, and a respect for their own and others' cultural heritage.
Jazz in the Classroom: Since 1989, the Institute has gone into public schools around the world, introducing millions of young people to jazz and its rich history. Jazz in the Classroom provides daily music instruction and instrument training sessions for public school students in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Washington, DC, along with master classes and assembly programs for tens of thousands of students in urban, rural, and remote areas of the country. One hundred percent of students in the instrument training programs graduate from high school and more than 90% go on to college. Leading jazz musicians and educators teach and serve as role models, helping students enhance their creativity and self-esteem.
International Jazz Day: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated April 30 as International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. UNESCO and United Nations missions, U.S. embassies and government outposts around the world hosted special events for the first annual International Jazz Day on April 30, 2012 to honor this revered musical art form that for a century has brought together people of different cultures, religions and nationalities. Universities, libraries, schools, performing arts centers and arts organizations of all disciplines around the world marked the day through presentations and concerts, and more than one billion people were reached through live performances and media coverage. As the lead nonprofit organization charged with planning and promoting this annual celebration, UNESCO and the Institute presented three high-profile programs featuring dozens of world-renowned artists: a daylong celebration in Paris at UNESCO world headquarters; a sunrise concert in New Orleans' Congo Square; and a sunrise concert at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York City. Istanbul, Turkey will serve as the 2013 Global Host City and will present a series of jazz education programs, master classes and performances with world-renowned musicians on April 30.
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance: Begun in 1995, this intensive two-year, college level program enables a select group of the world's most gifted young musicians to study tuition-free with legendary jazz musicians and educators including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Jimmy Heath, John Scofield, Ron Carter, and Jack DeJohnette. This performance-based program has become the model college jazz education program for the world. Many graduates, including Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke and Gretchen Parlato, have gone on to become leading jazz musicians and record on major labels. The Institute welcomed its ninth class of musicians to the program at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in September 2012.
Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition: Established in 1987, this is the world's most prestigious jazz competition, recognized for discovering the next generation of jazz masters. The competition focuses on a different instrument each year and features an all-star judging panel. Past judges have included Quincy Jones, Hugh Masekela, Steve Turre, Christian McBride, Diana Krall, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, Branford Marsalis, Roy Hargrove, Marian McPartland, and many others. This high-profile annual event has launched the careers of Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman, Chris Potter, Jacky Terrasson, Joey De Francesco, Ben Williams, Jane Monheit, and Tierney Sutton, to name a few. Dozens of semifinalists have forged successful careers as jazz performers and educators. The winner is guaranteed a recording contract with Concord Music Group. Each year the competition receives an extraordinary amount of publicity and press coverage in a variety of publications from The New York Times and The Washington Post to Rolling Stone magazine. National Public Radio has presented one-hour specials on past competitions that have reached 20 million listeners, and Black Entertainment Television has produced competition documentaries featuring performance clips and interviews with the contestants and judges.
National Jazz Curriculum: In 2000, the Institute launched this innovative Internet-based jazz curriculum (www.jazzinamerica.org) designed to be taught in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade American history and social studies classrooms throughout the United States and beyond. The curriculum examines the evolution of jazz styles, contributions of important performers, and musical techniques involved in the creation and performance of jazz. The program's public school touring component has directly reached more than 200,000 students and teachers through assembly programs and master classes led by renowned jazz artists including Antonio Hart, Lisa Henry, T.S. Monk, Vanessa Rubin, and Bobby Watson. The curriculum already has reached millions of students around the world.
The Blues and Jazz - Two American Classics: The Blues and Jazz (www.thebluesandjazz.org) traces the roots of the blues, its impact on jazz, and its importance to American history and culture. Lesson plans for American history and social studies students explain the connections between the blues and jazz from the blues' inception to today. Tens of thousands of public school students in Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, New Orleans, and across Mississippi have participated in assembly programs and master classes led by renowned blues and jazz musicians including Herbie Hancock, Alvin "Youngblood" Hart, Chris Thomas King, Keb' Mo', and Joe Louis Walker.
Performing Arts High Schools Jazz Program: The Institute brings renowned jazz musicians and educators into 11 public performing arts high schools to provide intensive jazz training. Through this performance-based program, gifted music students receive instruction in composition, theory, improvisation, history, and styles, preparing them to attend leading college, university, and conservatory music programs. The program is offered at Chicago's High School for the Arts (ChiArts) and Gallery 37 Center for the Arts; Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas; Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts; Miami's New World School of the Arts; New Orleans Center for Creative Arts; New York City's LaGuardia High School of Music, Art and Performing Arts; Newark's Arts High School; and Washington, DC's Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
BeBop to Hip-Hop: Begun in 2004 in the Los Angeles public schools, Bebop to Hip-Hop brings together jazz and hip-hop students under the direction of professional jazz musicians and hip-hop artists. Aspiring young musicians study improvisation, lyric writing, music theory, arranging, composition, turntable scratching, and sampling. They are introduced to the latest recording technologies and encouraged to create a new art form that demonstrates the genius of both musical genres. The class is fully accredited by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Recent concerts included performances by Billy Childs, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, DJ Spark, Doug E. Fresh, Kool Mo Dee, Chali 2na, Supernatural, and Bobby Watson.
International Programs: The Institute's students and major jazz artists have traveled around the world as jazz ambassadors, presenting education programs throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Many programs have been sponsored by the U. S. Department of State, including a tour of seven African nations in 1995 (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa, and Swaziland); India and Thailand in 1996; Chile, Argentina and Peru in 1998; and Egypt in 2001. For three years beginning in 2002, UNESCO sponsored a tour of Paris, where the Institute's college students performed with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and T.S. Monk at "International Philosophy Day" events presented by UNESCO. In 2005, Institute musicians visited Vietnam to mark the 10th anniversary of the United States and Vietnam resuming diplomatic relations. The Institute's college students traveled with Herbie Hancock, Lisa Henry, and Wayne Shorter on a 2007 State Department sponsored educational tour of India commemorating the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolence movement. The Institute's college students accompanied Martin Luther King, III, Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lyne Carrington, George Duke, and Chaka Khan, along with a Congressional delegation led by Congressman John Lewis, on a 2009 State Department tour of India commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King's historic trip to India to study Gandhi's nonviolence movement. The Institute's first visit to China took place in 2010, with Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the Institute's college students performing for thousands of people at the Shanghai 2010 Expo and Beijing's Forbidden City Concert Hall, and leading a master class at Beijing's National Center for the Performing Arts. In 2011, the Institute's college students led a jazz education and performance tour of the Basilicata region in southern Italy. Most recently in 2012, Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater and a stellar group of Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition winners and Institute alumni presented concerts and master classes in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Television Specials: The Institute has produced a series of television specials to highlight the importance of jazz. In 1986, the Institute produced "Celebrating a Jazz Master: Thelonious Sphere Monk," a PBS tribute concert hosted by Bill Cosby. In 1993, the Institute coordinated "A White House Jazz Festival," the first "In Performance at The White House" PBS special taped with President and Mrs. Clinton. In 1996, the Institute produced "A Celebration of America's Music," the first network television special devoted to jazz in over 25 years, which aired on ABC. A second "A Celebration of America's Music" aired in 1998. In 2006, President and Mrs. Bush hosted a concert celebrating the Institute's 20th anniversary that aired as an "In Performance at The White House" PBS special hosted by Barbara Walters. In addition, the Institute's international jazz competitions have been featured as documentaries on Black Entertainment Television and its affiliates.