Monsanto Fund Makes $50,000 Lead Gift to Jazz St. Louis Education Program

Jazz St. Louis announced it has received a $50,000 lead gift to its JazzU education program for the 2012-13 academic year.   The JazzU program provides weekly, private instruction in ensemble playing, improvisation, music theory, and listening strategies to students across the greater metropolitan St. Louis region.  The Monsanto Fund lead gift allows Jazz St. Louis to continue offering the JazzU program at no cost to students and reimbursing students for transportation costs when necessary.

“In addition to instruction from regional educators, JazzU students also have the enviable opportunity to work with and learn from the national and international talent that performs weekly on the Jazz at the Bistro stage,” said Jazz St. Louis executive director, Gene Dobbs Bradford.   “Jazz St. Louis negotiates education and outreach activities with each of the Jazz at the Bistro subscription artists.”

JazzU participants are selected through a competitive audition process.  This year, nearly 120 students auditioned for the popular program – an increase of 41% over last year.  Fifty students were selected from that audition process to join one of seven ensembles.  In addition to private instruction from regional educators and national artists, JazzU students are given the opportunity to perform publicly at Jazz at the Bistro, at private corporate events, and even at Jazz St. Louis’s annual gala.

“Jazz St. Louis’s education programs are about more than just music, theory, and technique,” said Phil Dunlap, Jazz St. Louis director of education. “Jazz music inherently teaches students about confidence through solo improvisation, teamwork through ensemble playing, and respect through listening to other musicians’ efforts.  While music is the focus, character-building is the outcome.  Whether these young people continue on with their jazz studies or take a different path, the core values and life skills they learn in the JazzU program will apply in their personal and professional lives.”

On the whole, over 80% of student musicians who participate in Jazz St. Louis’s education programs have gone on to major in music at the collegiate level, many citing JazzU as essential to their progression. For many underserved students, the JazzU program represents a path to a college education. 

“Participating in music has a wonderful effect on improving students’ overall school performance,” said Monsanto Fund president Deborah Patterson. “JazzU is the key to furthering many students’ education beyond high school and that is why we are proud to support the JazzU program.”

This year, JazzU students will enjoy direct instruction from and interaction with Jazz St. Louis’s 2012-13 Artists in Residence: Jon Faddis (trumpet), Terell Stafford (trumpet), Sean Jones (trumpet), Andre Hayward (trombone), Reggie Thomas (piano), Tim Warfield (saxophone), and Rodney Whitaker (bass), in addition to other artists on the 2012-13 Jazz at the Bistro subscription series.