On a Tuesday morning in November, at Roxbury’s Paige Academy, dozens of chil­dren broke into a scat choir.

Ba-​​ha-​​ba-​​bee-​​ba-​​bop, Ba-​​ha-​​ba-​​bee-​​ba-​​bop,” they shouted, led by North­eastern music pro­fessor Leonard Brown.

Brown, fellow music pro­fessor and African-​​American studies chair Emmett Price and three other musi­cians were giving the stu­dents from Paige — a non­profit school for chil­dren aged six months to 12 years — an up-​​close-​​and-​​personal expe­ri­ence with jazz.

To watch a video of the event, please click here: http://​www​.north​eastern​.edu/​n​e​w​s​/​m​u​l​t​i​m​e​d​i​a​/​v​i​d​e​o​.​h​t​m​l​?​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​I​D​=​g​v​S​Y​s​S​0​i​b​E​2​J​I​a​o​f​i​1​m​OGQ

The event, part of the John Coltrane Memo­rial Con­cert Edu­ca­tional Out­reach Pro­gram, was one of many that Brown and Price have staged over the years at schools in Boston and Cam­bridge. Brown esti­mates that since 1992, when the two began the pro­gram, it has reached more than 10,000 students.

We need to let the kids hear the music,” said Brown, who played tenor sax on songs such as Coltrane’s “Equinox.” “It’s as simple as that. Music is part of you from the time you are born to your last breath on earth.”

Brown said show­casing Coltrane’s music at Paige Academy — which he called “a leader in terms of Afro-​​centric edu­ca­tion for young kids”— was par­tic­u­larly appro­priate. “They know how impor­tant music is within the African-​​American cul­ture,” he said.

The out­reach program’s ulti­mate goal is to expose stu­dents to qual­i­ties such as per­se­ver­ance, focus, pos­i­tive self-​​image and the will­ing­ness to learn, said Brown. With younger stu­dents, the goal is more straight­for­ward: to bring music into their lives.

It’s impor­tant to see pro­fes­sional musi­cians up close,” said Price, who played elec­tric key­board for the event. “That’s how music is passed down — it’s about sharing that passion.

It’s not about us per­forming for them. It’s about the inter­ac­tion between the musi­cians and the kids.”
Over the course of the morning, stu­dents sang along to a jazzy ver­sion of the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and sashayed around the room in conga lines. As Brown jammed on his tenor sax, one young stu­dent edged nearer to Price to get a better look at his keyboard.

For North­eastern stu­dent Brit­tany Wells, who sang Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child,” the per­for­mance of the quintet—which also included a drummer and bassist—gave the stu­dents a chance to learn about musical instruments.

After the per­for­mance, they came up to us and talked about scat­ting and how they under­stood what the instru­ments were — the drums, the key­board, the bass,” said Wells, ’11, a music industry major.

The out­reach pro­gram opens up new cre­ative pos­si­bil­i­ties for even the youngest stu­dents, said Paige Academy cofounder Dr. Angela Paige-​​Cook.

When North­eastern brings in the jazz ensemble, it allows the chil­dren to see people who look like them playing instru­ments,” she said, noting that the out­reach pro­gram has returned to the academy for the past 17 years. “That inspires them to say, ‘If they can do it, then I can do it.’ It’s an oppor­tu­nity to show­case what’s avail­able in terms of hob­bies and maybe even careers.”