School of Jazz is KNKX 88.5 FM Seattle/Tacoma’s music educational outreach program. The program has several elements that work to advance several important things at once: our educational outreach, our unique online content, the diversity of the music we play, our commitment to the local music scene and a strong case for support. It has been around for over 12 years, though the activities in the program have evolved over the course of that time.
Each year, we select a dozen middle and high school jazz bands and pair each one with their own local music professional for clinics and learning. We then bring in students and mentors into the studio for a live studio session, interview and performance. The live session gets the same production value as some of the biggest names in jazz traveling through town, including a videographer, a photographer, post taping production and a set. We then take the finished product and post it to our YouTube Channel.
The students apply for the job by submitting a playlist. If chosen, they host our Evening Jazz program, playing their music and explaining why they like certain pieces and sharing more about their inspirations with our audience. We also bring in students to perform live at station events and fundraisers. Lastly, we look for opportunities to tell SOJ stories in our news programs. This past year, we followed three student musicians on their journey to perform at the national Essentially Ellington Competition in New York. They talked about what they were seeing and experiencing and about the music. We aired their stories in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.