Educational Outreach during the Covid-19 Pandemic:

Over a dozen different Educational Outreach activities were cancelled this spring, and plans to further expand a pilot residency program in the Cleveland Municipal School District for middle school musicians has been put on hold for the time being.

In response to director/student need for virtual content, the CJO created 10 free, educational instructional videos which were emailed to our database of band directors. These were also placed on CJO’s social media and now reside on CJO’s channel. These were created to be general and therefore useful to musicians of all ages, and some weren’t specifically geared towards scholastic jazz instruction. These were extremely well-received and as a result, the CJO is looking for grant monies to provide more of this virtual free content for use by teachers and students.

A video featuring 8 CJO musicians was also created to answer a number of questions generated by the database of band directors–this video focused more upon career paths in music.

After budget cuts were announced for public schools, the CJO will be creating and distributing one free piece of original jazz ensemble music each month starting in August. This will not only give students free music, but it will be new and unpublished material.

The CJO takes educational responsibility seriously and presents a variety of programs to nurture the region’s neophyte jazz musicians and listeners. Most of CJO’s performers are also educators who work regularly with collegiate groups (Kent State University, Cleveland State University, Youngstown State University, Case Western Reserve University, Ashland University, The University of Akron, The Ohio State University and Cuyahoga Community College) and younger students (Cleveland Heights Public Schools, Garfield Heights Public Schools, Hawken Schools, Cleveland Municipal School District). Still others are involved in educational programs from the retail side of the music business at local music stores and via Jupiter Wind Instruments and the Selmer-Bach Corporation.

Our Educational Outreach projects include:

Side by Side Concerts

The CJO goes directly into the region’s schools to model, teach and perform with Northeast Ohio’s scholastic jazz musicians. CJO “Side by Side” concerts typically involve members of the CJO working with high school students in advance of a shared concert date. At the concert, the CJO sits side by side with the sponsor high school ensemble and plays, sight reads and offers help to the group at large and to each student musician individually.  The evening concert then features the sponsor high school group and the CJO performing both together and separately.

Some of our sponsor schools have sold tickets to the evening concert to defray the costs of CJO and to raise funds for their music programs. These events have been musically and educationally satisfying for all concerned.  Solon High School, The Hawken School, Brecksville/Broadview Heights High School, Hudson High School and Cuyahoga Falls High School have all recently benefited from “Side by Side” events.  Free tickets to an upcoming CJO concert are offered to participating students and discounted tickets to family and friends.

Student Tickets

The CJO also offers free tickets to students for most shows. Through CJO shows and other Educational events, over 3200 students saw the CJO perform for free last fiscal year. In addition, ten-dollar student tickets are offered to all of our ticketed events and at BLU Jazz+ in Akron. As a result of these programs, the CJO has had more student attendance these last two seasons than during any in its history.

The CJO Rehearsal Program

Via the CJO Rehearsal Program, the CJO conducts their first rehearsals prior to upcoming Season Series Concerts at Northeast Ohio schools. Students are encouraged to ask questions of and work with the CJO members and are offered free tickets to the concert that is being rehearsed.

Field Trips to CJO concerts

Students from 11 different schools took advantage of a new program last fiscal year in which students attended CJO Season Series shows with their Band Directors. The students arrived early for the concerts and were treated to free seats and a pre-concert talk with several CJO members. These talks not only highlighted the music that was about to be performed, but also visited making music professionally and the musical journeys of the CJO musicians.

Partnership with The Cleveland School Municipal School District

Substantial assistance from the Gund Foundation funded two important CJO activities with students from the Cleveland Municipal School District. Five CJO musicians worked for seven weeks with 6th-8th grade students at Ben Franklin Elementary School. They were joined by a 6th CJO performer and gave a free concert at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in early December. Also, Artistic Director Paul Ferguson worked for several weeks with the students from the Cleveland School of the Arts, and in mid-January of 2020, the CJO and these students presented a free concert commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Meetings are currently taking place with the CMSD and CJO to expand and refine the residency program just completed in December to involve four CMSD Middle Schools for the 2020-21 scholastic year.

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