The John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert Edu­ca­tional Out­reach Pro­gram Has Reached More Than 10,000 Stu­dents Over the Past 14 Years

The John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert Edu­ca­tional Out­reach Pro­gram (JCMCEOP) uses music as the con­text to ini­tiate a unique exchange between gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents, teachers and musicians.

Under the lead­er­ship of Dr. Leonard Brown and Dr. Emmett Price of North­eastern University’s Depart­ments of African Amer­ican Studies and Music, the JCMCEOP col­lab­o­rates with eight Boston and Cam­bridge inner-​​city schools to bring live per­for­mances of African-​​American cre­ative impro­vi­sa­tional music to pre­dom­i­nantly minority stu­dent populations.

Brown said music is an inte­gral, though often for­gotten piece of a child’s edu­ca­tion. He believes the out­reach pro­gram can spur teachers to use music to develop inno­v­a­tive ways of teaching math, geog­raphy and even history.

Music is now sec­ondary,” Brown said. “But with proper expo­sure to live music, we help chil­dren develop to their full capacities.”

Indeed, the program’s ulti­mate goal is to expose stu­dents to qual­i­ties such as pur­suance, focus, pos­i­tive self-​​image and the will­ing­ness to learn, and has reached more than 10,000 stu­dents since its incep­tion in 1992.

Using the John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert (JCMC) as its point of depar­ture, the out­reach pro­gram brings expe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional jazz musician/​educators into class­rooms to engage stu­dents in per­for­mance lec­tures and intro­duce them to the music and under­lying artistry of jazz legend John Coltrane.

During the ses­sions, stu­dents typ­i­cally break into scat choirs, sing along to ren­di­tions of Coltrane songs and gain expo­sure to musical instru­ments. The feed­back after per­for­mances, which typ­i­cally last 75–90 min­utes, includes draw­ings from ele­men­tary school stu­dents praising the musi­cians, Brown and Price; thank you let­ters from high school stu­dents and let­ters of grat­i­tude from parents.

That’s life-​​changing stuff right there,” Price said. “That con­firms the pas­sion that we already have for these young kids and it con­firms we are heading in the right direction.”

This year, the JCMC, the world’s oldest annual per­for­mance tribute to the legend that is Coltrane, cel­e­brates its 30th anniver­sary. For the 22nd con­sec­u­tive year, it will be held at North­eastern on Sep­tember 21–22. 25 stu­dents and chap­er­ones from each of the eight par­tic­i­pating schools are pro­vided free admis­sion to the con­cert on Sept. 21.

With all the atten­tion toward the arts being removed from the school cur­riculum,” Price said, “this is an oppor­tu­nity for North­eastern, a uni­ver­sity that is inter­ested in the urban mis­sion, to help be part of the solution.

The out­reach pro­gram is a resource and a solu­tion to the fact that young people need to be intro­duced to music,” Price said. “We hope we can start a trend that can make chil­dren a pri­ority aca­d­e­m­i­cally and creatively.”

For more infor­ma­tion about the 30th anniver­sary of the John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert and the JCMCEOP, please visit www​.jcmc​.neu​.edu or con­tact Jason Korn­witz at 617–373-5471 or j.​kornwitz@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.