The Jazz Education Network is dedicated to building the jazz arts community by advancing education, promoting performance, and developing new audiences.

Helpful Articles

Read helpful articles written by JEN members and industry icons for the monthly newsletter. Submit your own articles here.

Teaching Jazz Drumset
by Paul Buyer

Over the years, I have noticed the majority of college percussionists who come to me with drumset experience do not necessarily have a strong jazz background.  Even some that played in their high school jazz band played mostly rock, funk, and Latin tunes and are often unfamiliar with many jazz drumming legends. 

This article is written to assist the JEN readership and specifically non-percussionist jazz band directors with teaching, leading, and communicating with their drummers.  Though the following content is best implemented in the private lesson studio, it can be used in any musical setting.

Read more... 

Instructing the Rhythm Section In A Vocal Jazz Ensemble
by Rosana Eckert

The addition of a rhythm section (typically piano, bass, drums, and sometimes guitar) to a jazz choir greatly expands repertoire choices, enhances the ensemble’s stylistic possibilities, and helps take the choir even more deeply into the jazz idiom.  This added element can sometimes be a source of anxiety for a director with little or no rhythm section experience.  Fear not!  It’s like anything else. A little basic knowledge will get you started, and then you will learn as you go.


Infusing Student Composition Into Your Jazz Program
by Dr. David Fodor
Many school jazz programs today feature outstanding performance ensembles.  Students are well-trained in the reading and interpretation of jazz charts, and soloists often display an ability beyond their years to improvise across sophisticated chord changes.  However, one thing is often missing from these performances: the inclusion of original music composed by the students themselves. 


Adding Nuance...In Vocal Jazz Ensemble Performance
by Kerry Marsh
Vocal jazz ensemble music lives and develops predominantly in educational institutions, with a few world-class professional groups that those of us in the community seem to unanimously admire. This phenomenon creates both the opportunity and the responsibility for vocal jazz educators to play a major role in the direction and future of this beautiful and unique form of expression. In advancing the art of vocal jazz (which today encompasses a much wider spectrum of music than that which has traditionally been labeled “jazz”), I would advocate for the pursuit of a nuanced approach to performance.


Latin Percussion Applications In the Jazz Band
by Victor Rendon
Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and other “world” instruments have always been played in the context of popular music and jazz groups, including jazz bands in colleges. Often, this area of drumming is neglected in an educational setting, leaving the student to attempt to come up with something that fits the music. This can actually be good from a creative point of view. However, it is often helpful to have some guidelines from which to work with. 


Let's Talk About Sound
by Monica Shriver
The first thing that people hear when you play (or sing) is your sound.  Think about all the time spent working on technique (licks, scales, chords, patterns, etc.), range, and performance material, but all of that is only able to be heard if the listener can get past your sound. 


The Big Band Music of David Baker
by Monika Herzig
We recently lost one of our jazz legends, David Baker, but his legacy continues. One facet of David’s work that has not been documented well enough are his Big Band compositions and arrangements. Over nearly 50 years of leading the top Indiana University band with players that include Chris Botti, John Clayton, Peter Erskine, Shawn Pelton, Pharez Whitted and so many more, he created some of the most sophisticated and beautiful charts for the group similar to Duke Ellington’s work for his long-time band of supreme players.


Drum & Rhythm Section Performance Tips: Understanding and Executing the Tune
by Marvin Sparks

Over the past few decades, I have judged the All-State Jazz Drum Set submissions and listened to auditions for placement in college jazz ensembles.  I have been surprised by the lack of knowledge that some young jazz drummers and rhythm section members have about the music they play or listen to.  In this article, I will discuss the importance of learning music (the tune) and applying it to the drum set and rhythm section.  This concept will help musicians focus on the music instead of “licks” to impress.

Sing and Play: Teaching Fundamental Music Skills in Vocal Jazz Ensembles
by Kathleen Hollingsworth, D.M.A.

I want to share with you how I’ve been teaching fundamental music skills in my vocal jazz ensemble because it helps them sing with greater aptitude, skill and musicianship.  Each term, my students are given a theory exercise to master over a ten-week session. Each exercise is based at the keyboard and the student must sing while playing the keyboard. For their final, they must be able to perform the exercise in all twelve keys. 

From Apprentice to Assistant: How Playing Music At A Young Age Can Pave The Way To A Career In Music Education
by Kelsey Lee

Growing up around the Louisville Leopard Percussionists program has been an incredible journey for me. It has taught me patience, understanding, adventure, problem solving, how to enjoy a wide variety of music, teamwork, and other lifelong lessons that I am still figuring out along the way.

How To Live Well On the Road (an interview with trumpeter Terral Stafford)
by Christopher Davis

I’ve always wanted to play trumpet. My grandparents had a trumpet at their house that belonged to my cousin. So, ever since I saw the trumpet, I’ve wanted to play it.  But I had to play string instruments first, that's just how the music program worked where I started to play in Elk Grove Village. So, unfortunately I had to play strings which tortured a lot of people, because I was awful. And once I got the trumpet in my hand, I haven’t let it go since. 

Sight Reading From the Drummer's View
by Steve Fidyk

I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to hold the drum chair for more than 20 years with the Army Blues Big Band. As an ensemble, we read new music daily, record, and accompany guest artists at festivals and universities. One essential skill that is somewhat unique to this type of reading situation, is the ability to examine and interpret a new chart within a few short moments.

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock Pen An Open Letter to the Next Generation of Artists
by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock

From their early days composing and playing together with Miles Davis in Davis’ Second Great Quintet, to branching out and flourishing in their individual endeavors, Wayne and Herbie’s contributions to the world of music have been nothing short of extraordinary. Despite their countless accolades, they’ll both insist that their greatest achievements lie in their roles as husbands, fathers, and humans of this earth.

How To Improvise With Others (When You Lack Confidence)
by Monica Shriver

Confidence is a tricky thing. Sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don’t. The trick is tempering confidence with humility and kindness.

8 Lessons that Entrepreneurs and Startups Can Learn from Jazz Musicians
By Marina Terteryan
Being simultaneously involved in the jazz and entrepreneur communities, I have begun to notice many similarities between the two cultures.


A Structured Approach to 'Woodshedding' Improvisation
By Jesse McBee
Read about goal-oriented daily routine geared toward developing skills needed to become an improvising musician.

Empower Your Brand with Easy and Inexpensive Online Resources
By Marina Terteryan
Want to build your brand easily, quickly, on a small budget? Learn about the top 3 online tools to build your website, email your fans, and design marketing materials - all for free or low cost!

How to Establish a Jazz Program Or Jumpstart Your Existing Program
By Steve Holley
If you search for "starting a jazz program" on Google you'll get over 44,000,000 hits! My hope here is to offer suggestions that have worked for me.

Set & Setting in the Combo Room
By Hal Galper
Students and teachers alike are all too familiar with the generally sterile environment of the combo room, most of them originally constructed as classrooms, not being very conducive to learning music.

Part 2: Set in the Combo Room
By Hal Galper
Probably the least understood but most important musical admonition, the student/teacher mind set is critical to the quality of the teaching experience.

Recording Tips and Tricks: Microphones & Microphone Placement
By Kelly Garner
Choosing the correct microphone for each instrument is one of the most important steps in the recording process.

International Exchange Rites: A Guide to Global Growth
by Antonio J. García & Neil Gonsalves
Learn what to consider when exploring the potential for your own international exchange projects.

Jazz Pedagogy for Music Educators
by Patrick Brown
Teaching jazz courses specifically designed for the music education major curriculum can be an effective strategy in spreading the love of jazz in primary (elementary) and secondary (middle and high) schools.

Jazz Industry & Music Business Committee Examines The U.S. Copyright Office Study on Music Licensing Parts 1 and 2
By Cheryl Slay Carr
Get an in-depth look at how the new U.S. Copyright Office Study impacts jazz musicians and how you can protect your work and avoid infringing on others' copyrights.

Read Part 1...
Read Part 2...

Leading by Example: Jazz in 21st Century Education
By JR Gould
Schools which seek to thrive and lead in 21st century education can and should be imparting one education that addresses both of these important values simultaneously, and those schools’ music educators can and should be the leaders to whom they look.
How to Make Social Media Marketing Less Overwhelming

By Marina Terteryan
Social media marketing can be overwhelming for artists. Follow these 8 steps to make it easier and more accessible.

Chord Spelling Standardization
By Jerry Tachoir
Standardization is necessary to allow musicians from all parts of the US, Canada, Europe, and the world to understand a common chord language. Here is my attempt at standardization.

Two Simple Ideas to Improve Ensemble Intonation
By Ryan Adamsons
Ensemble tuning and intonation are subjects that affect every music educator. Think about the following two ideas and consider applying them to your tuning methods.

How JEN Helped Me
By Monica Shriver
Read about one JEN member's invaluable connections made during JEN conferences and through the JEN network.

7 Improvisation Opportunities for Young Children
By Dr. Darla Hanley
Discover activities to try with young children that teach them the fundamentals of improvisation.

Celebrate the Legacy of Billy Strayhorn
By Gregory A. Morris, Ph.D.
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the legendary Billy Strayhorn. Learn about his timeless legacy and how you can help celebrate his great talents.

Collective Improvising and Ear Training in Big Band
By Dr. John Reynolds
One of the real challenges a big band director faces in daily rehearsal is how to get all students improvising.

How to Establish a Successful Jazz Program
By Steve Holley
Get tips from veteran educators on how to start or strengthen a jazz program.

The Hong Kong Institute of Music's Journey to Dallas
By Dr. Sheung-Ping Lai
The students at HKIED traveled across the world for JEN. Read their story.

Outreach Idea: Play for Young Students at Lunch
By Kim Aubuchon
What is the easiest way to introduce students to jazz during the school day? Play for them at lunch! Read about this fun outreach opportunity.

Tips for a Successful School Jazz Program
By Bob Sinicrope
Just in time for back to school season, JEN President and veteran educator Bob Sinicrope offers tips on how to run a successful school jazz program.

What is Jazz?
By Carl Dershem
JEN member Carl Dershem, from San Diego, CA, explores this topic in a fictional narrative about the subjective definition of jazz.

How to Maximize the Jazz Festival Experience
By Caleb Chapman
As festival season approaches, get some tips on preparing your group for festival success.

Jazz and... the Beatles?
By Fran Morris Rosman
On a special Beatles anniversary, read about the special connection that Ella Fitzgerald had with The Beatles.

10 Tips for Effective Networking
By Andrew Surmani
One of the best parts of being a JEN member is the amazing network of friends and colleagues. So how do you effectively nurture your network?
How to Get The Most Out of Summer Camp
By Ernie Rideout
Summer camps can help supercharge your passion for music. Learn how to get the most out of it.