NCJF Jazz Education


Students must have basic knowledge of their instruments


Classes held at the
Hotel Ballast Wilmington (formerly the Hilton Riverside Downtown )

One of our favorite things about the Festival is the school concerts we present with our really amazing musicians who play at the Festival. Music education for the next generation are a big part of our Mission, and our musicians are on board with that, in fact, many of them are involved in music education all year long.

The NC Jazz Festival musicians performed for about 250 music students at Roland Grise middle school. The eager students were excited to hear live jazz! Adrian Cunningham-lead, discussed how there is the rhythm section and the front line. He talked about how the instruments play an important role individually and together as a team. Adrian is from Australia and told the students about his fascination with American jazz at an early age. He stressed to the students to learn about American jazz as it is their music. Alvin Atkinson-percussionist, had the students do some beat exercises “shuffle and swing” with their hands. He talked about the significance of percussion in the rhythm section. Bria Skonberg called the trumpet the “call to action” instrument and talked about its role in the “front line”. The trumpet is an important instrument for melody to the song and to jazz music. Cynthia Sayer played the banjo and discussed its role in early American jazz. Jim Fryer compared the trombone to our voice in that we use both to express ourselves. At the end, the students and the musicians had a question and answer session-students had many questions to the delight of the musicians!

One of our concerts the musicians went to was Snipes Academy of Arts & Design. There were 412 young students, kindergarten through 5th grade. Our All-Star musicians played tunes by Miles Davis, and discussed his life and musical evolution. The students had had some previous instruction about Miles Davis, and during the question and answer session, asked some great questions.
Each musician also talked about their own instrument and their jazz “conversations” with the other instruments .


Cynthia Sayer, Katie Thiroux and Bria Skonberg went to Girls Leadership Academy Of Wilmington (GLOW), and talked about women being accepted as jazz musicians. Cynthia discussed how difficult it was at first to be recognized as a serious jazz musician. Bria expressed her thanks to Cynthia for being the barrier breaker and making it easier for her and others. The ladies did a showcase of sounds/styles of jazz for the students. The musicians established a great rapport with the students and they all had a good time!

The NC Jazz Festival had another fabulous year with the music masterclass! We had about 70 music students participating from Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick Counties. We had 8 masterclasses for music students held at the Ballast Hotel on Friday during the festival. 30 students attended the Friday evening performance at no cost to see and hear their masterclass teacher, along with the other all-star musicians of the NC Jazz Festival play live JAZZ! This continues to be an awesome experience for the music students. Thank you to The North Carolina Arts Council and the Landfall Foundation as well as donations from our Jazz attendees who help make this experience possible.


Masterclasses are held every year at the downtown Hotel Ballast Wilmington during our festival. The NCJF world class musicians give music students
2 FREE hours of teaching in a small setting. Twenty (20) students are selected for each class. Names will be listed as received, on a first-come basis. Once the Class List is full, all other incoming names will be added to the Reserve List, again, in order of receipt.

Students that have participated in the master classes will have opportunity to see a live jazz performance that Friday night for free!

For more information please contact Laura Crane

Click Here To Apply Online

Click Here To Print The Master Class Form


NCJF joined with the Cape Fear Jazz Society (CFJS) and Gerry White’s Jazz Dining Co-op in an effort to support and enhance local jazz at an established “jazz mecca” here in Wilmington.

BURNT MILL CREEK WINE BAR AND BILLIARD HALL has been a dedicated Sunday night jazz scene for over a year now. The Benny Hill Trio hosts a “jam” there from 7 –11 pm every Sunday night—this gives local jazz musicians an opportunity to sit in and play with some of our best! During the evening you might hear UNCW jazz students, high school jazz students or well known jazz musicians who happen to be in town –all drawn to the “in spot” for jazz on Sunday nights.

The venue had the stage, the sound system, but no real piano. After a very short discussion among “die-hard” jazz lovers , the leaders of the above mentioned groups decided to do something about this need—a piano was found, movers were hired , as well as the piano tuner—and, voila! BURNT MILL CREEK WINE BAR AND BILLIARD HALL now has a piano!

BMC is not a restaurant, but a food truck is there to serve hungry jazzlovers!
Come join us for “jazz @ the pool hall” every Sunday night from 7 – 11pm.