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Jazz education program visits MPS

Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz has selected Milwaukee Public Schools as one of only three districts nationwide to take part in a peer-to-peer jazz education program in May 2022. Five guest artists visited the district to share experiences from May 9–13. Workshops took place at Milwaukee High School of the Arts, Ronald Reagan High School, Milwaukee School of Languages, Gold Meir School, and Rufus King High School.

“We’ve found that sometimes young people can learn about certain things better from kids their same age, and one of them is jazz,” said jazz great Herbie Hancock. Through the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, Hancock has made immense contributions to music, education, and humanity. He has devoted his life to sharing music and making it accessible to all.

Besides playing jazz at a level far beyond their years, visiting students will talk with their Wisconsin peers about what jazz is, why it’s important to America, and the important values that jazz represents: teamwork, freedom with responsibility, unity with ethnic diversity, hard work and goal accomplishment, and the importance of finding a passion early in life, being persistent, and believing in yourself.

Visiting artists include alto saxophonist Ebban Dorsey, age 17, from Baltimore; trombonist Melvin Nimtz, age 18, from New Orleans; pianist Nathan Tatsuta, age 15, from Santa Ana, CA; bassist Jack Rota, age 18, from Houston; and drummer J.J. Mazza, age 17, from Denver. They were joined by trumpet recording artist Sean Jones, Kansas City jazz and blues vocalist Lisa Henry, and renowned jazz educator Dr. J.B. Dyas.

At each school, the entire student body gathered for an assembly to hear the ensemble, then music students spent time talking, playing music, and learning about each other’s cities and cultures.

“We are always looking for opportunities to broaden students’ horizons,” said Superintendent Dr. Keith P. Posley. “Meeting with these visiting young musicians will have a lifelong impact on our students and will be an amazing source of inspiration. We are grateful to the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz and the funders for this program—the National Endowment for the Arts and United Airlines.”

MPS is grateful to have been chosen by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz for this impressive program. On behalf of our students, thank you!


Stephen Davis, Media Relations Manager
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