Jazz Education Concert/Master Classes: February 2014

During the 2014 NCJF weekend, for the eighth year, we continued our practice of bringing some of our all-star musicians to Roland Grise Middle School for a concert/workshop on Friday afternoon. All Star musicians Chuck Redd, Ehud Asherie, Nicki Parrott, Harry Allen, Jim Fryer, Patrick Harison, and Nate Najar, joined Ed Polcer for this event. We had an audience of over four hundred 6th , 7th & 8th graders, these youngsters may be the jazz musicians and audiences of the future!

masterconcertLater Friday afternoon we hosted four workshops/masterclasses for local music students given by: Nate Najar – guitar, Bria Skonberg – trumpet, Jim Fryer – trombone and Adrian Cunningham – woodwinds. More than 60 young musicians took advantage of these free opportunities to learn from the “jazz pros”.

The master class students were invited to attend the Friday night performance, thanks to the generosity of Victor & Elaine Chap, John & Mary Whitt, Greg & Joan Shelton, Farren Smith, Elena Jones, Dalton West, David Sanger,YMCA OF Wilmington, Coastal MDS –Dr. Tony Njapa, Valerie Lingo of JAMAICA COMFORT ZONE, GENKI SUSHA & JAPANESE RESTAURANT, and SZECHUAN 132, who provided the funding for their tickets.

During our Patron’s Brunch this jazz education program was discussed and a JAZZ EDUCATION FUND was started to continue to provide the opportunity for young musicians to attend an evening performance of the North Carolina Jazz Festival. Contributions to this fund will be welcomed, and because NCJF is a non-profit organization, any contributions to this fund or to the NCJF in general, are TAX DEDUCTABLE.

In 2014 we applied for and were given a grant of $1,000 by PPD, a locally based pharmaceutical company, to help with our Jazz Education Program.  Because of this grant we were able to continue our four free masterclasses, plus offered free tickets for the Friday evening performance to all of our student masterclass attendees. These classes were conducted by Nate Najar (guitar), Bria Skonberg (trumpet), Adrian Cunningham (reed/woodwinds), and Jim Fryer (trombone).   We thank PPD for its’ support in helping to bring an interest in jazz to our local music students!  Their continued support of education and community involvement is very much appreciated.

For more information in the Jazz Education Workshops please contact Laura Crane:  lauracranebx@gmail.com


“I had never had students participate in the jazz festival before. I opened it up to all my students, not just my jazz band students. Many that participated were not in jazz band, nor did they play the usual “jazz band” instruments. All the students had a great time, and I still hear them playing what they learned in the master classes. It was very well organized and I will definitely have students participate again!” —Band Director, Holly Shelter Middle School

 “I enjoyed spending time with Nate Najar and the other guitarists. Nate went out of his way to provide each student with some individualized attention. We were all able to learn about different style of playing as well as being exposed to different genres. There are not a lot of opportunities for guitarist in the Wilmington area. Most student are exposes to a few lessons and then are self taught the rest. Nate rocked the class. Looking forward to next year.” —Andrey Little

“I attended the guitar master class the last two years. These classes provided a rare opportunity for one-on-one interaction with big-time players like Bucky Pizzarelli and Nate Najar. Both Bucky and Nate were accommodating and encouraging to everyone, regardless of skill level. Playing a duet with a musician of this caliber is an unforgettable experience. I look forward to next year’s festival. Best regards, Mike.” —Mike Nunnally

“The Master Classes run by the North Carolina Jazz Festival were a tremendous success for my students at NewHanoverHigh School.  Students were exposed to some tremendous ideas by the clinicians, from a traditional blues scale improv to the many thought processes that go into playing an instrument. Students were invigorated to try these ideas once we returned to school and they are much less intimidated by the thought of improving. Many kudos to the NCJF for providing this extra service to the students in the Cape Fear Region.” —Tim McCoy

“I really learned how not to fear playing improv and just letting go.” —Rachel McCoy, Trumpet

“Playing in the master class helped me to gain a better understanding of the blues scale and how to use it as I improve.” —Tristan Burns

Violin Master Class“This was the second time that I have attended Jazz Workshops offered by the North Carolina Jazz Festival for young violinists with Jonathan Russell.  I was especially pleased this year because the Hilton provided more rooms for the classes and therefore the violin students had the whole time with Jonathan.  I also witness the growth of Jonathan as a teacher.  He was wonderful because he knew what they would want to play and improvise upon. Their favorite was ‘Master of the House’ from ‘Les Miserable’s’. 

There were a few students who were too shy to improvise in the beginning, but without pushing, at the end even the student who openly expressed herself as having a disease called “FEAR” was doing it solo! I really feel that because he is so close to their age, they loved him and he understood them.  I also believe that all of my students are now following him on YouTube.  I am now implementing jazz rhythms into the classical repertoire that they are working on and it has brought a lot of enjoyment into their learning and has also expanded my teaching skills.  Thank you for giving us
this wonderful opportunity.”

Lorraine Westermark
Director: Suzuki Talent Education of Wilmington and Saint Mary School
Suzuki Violin Program

Saxophone Master Class“I had a great time at the NCJF annual jazz master class.  I am a saxophone player that has been playing since 6th grade.  I have never learned so much about my instrument and music!  I learned from a true professional point of view.  He made me comfortable and told me a few techniques in perfecting my music.  I can breathe properly and I learned how to hold out a note for almost forever (circular breathing).  It was extremely tough, but I learned a lot about it.  I enjoyed the master class and I hope that I can do this again.”
Philip Njapa –  age 14

“The positives of this event were that when we were playing a steady beat, and each person had to play a solo, I felt the rhythm.  That helped me build confidence into my solo that I made up/improvised, which not only sounded good, but sounded jazzy in the right tone. 

The negatives were that everyone was 3 steps ahead of me, because  they’re in high school and I’m in middle school, which makes it impossible to catch up with the rest of the group.  I needed a little bit more training at “my level” before I can join anybody else.  If it was easy everyone would be doing it, young kids learn from special professionals and play difficult songs that are not easy, but that’s what makes it a fun task ahead of you, and a goal to reach.”
Kenneth Njapa – age 12 – clarinetist