Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

Peer to Peer

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Through the Institute's Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Tours, gifted student musicians from 11 public performing arts high schools served by the Institute present weeklong tours for their peers in other cities. The student musicians are accompanied by distinguished guest artists including vocalist Lisa Henry and saxophonists Antonio Hart and Bobby Watson.

On each day of the Peer-to-Peer tour, the musicians present an informance (informational performance) for the entire student body at a different school. They play various styles of jazz and talk with the student audiences about what jazz is, why it is important to America, and how a jazz ensemble represents a perfect democracy. Throughout each presentation, the student musicians and guest artists provide further insight into important values that jazz represents: teamwork, unity with ethnic diversity, the correlation of hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion for something early in life and being persistent. The student audiences learn a great deal from their peers as, due to their similar ages, attitude, and look, there is instant rapport and respect.

Following each informance, the guest instrumental artist presents a jazz workshop for the host school’s jazz band in which the visiting student performers play alongside their like-instrument counterparts, providing hands-on tutelage peer-to-peer. At the same time, the guest vocalist presents a vocal jazz workshop for the school's choir. Each tour also includes public concerts at local jazz clubs or other performance venues, giving the touring student ensembles invaluable experience performing with renowned artists while developing jazz audiences for the future.

Since 2005, Peer-to-Peer Jazz Education Tours have been presented in Anchorage, Detroit, Honolulu, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. Each year, the program has resonated with students and adults alike. As Thelonious Monk, Jr. explains, "As young people are so influenced by kids their own age, who better to expose them to this great American art form than those of their own generation?"

In 2011, a student combo from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts presented a tour in the Denver public schools; jazz students from Chicago's Gallery 37 Center for the Arts toured Omaha; and an all-star group of student musicians chosen from the 11 public performing arts high schools served by the Institute presented a tour in Annapolis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. The tours' professional musicians included Kevin Eubanks, Artistic Director of the Institute’s Jazz in the Classroom program; Antonio Hart; and Lisa Henry.

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