BHS JAZZ PROGRAMS
We are more than just a music class. BHS Jazz includes workshops by professional musicians, studying music abroad, and mentorship. We believe jazz is for everyone, and we do outreach to elementary students, girls, and people of color to ensure that a jazz education is accessible and exciting for each and every student.
Our five vibrant bands are taught by our beloved director, Sarah Cline, with help from sectional leaders from our community. The bands perform at the Berkeley HIgh Little Theater, Yoshis, and at festivals around the Bay and beyond. Check out the band rosters here.
JazzGirls Day invites girl-identified and non-binary students aged 10 - 14 from the community who sings or plays an instrument— they don't need to be enrolled at BUSD Schools—to learn from professional jazz musicians for master classes and jam sessions, and get the chance to have a BHS Jazz mentor.
Started ten years ago by BHS Jazz program director Sarah Cline, the day increases awareness of jazz to girl-identifying and non-binary students, who are historically underrepresented in jazz. At this free event, girls can perform and interact with woman and non-binary professional musicians and high school jazz players. We believe that this event has helped spur the increase in the number of girl-identified and non-binary students enrolling in BHS Jazz over the years: In 2019-2020, girls constituted half of the entry-level band. Ms. Cline has shared this model at national educator events and it has been replicated around the country.
Travel Study in Cuba
The language of jazz transcends time and place. Every other year, a subset of students travel on an international study tour to explore the historical roots of jazz. Several trips have been made to Havana, Cuba where our students study and perform with students at the Escuela Nacional de Música, part of the Cuban government’s esteemed school for the arts, Instituto Superior de Arte. As of 2019-2020, the trip was expanded from one band to include all eligible juniors and seniors.
Berkeley Music for Inclusion and Equity (BMIE)
Music is the universal language that brings people together. Music education has multiple benefits for children and youth: learning music facilitates learning other subjects and builds problem solving, appropriate risk taking and teamwork skills. While Berkeley Unified School District has taken pride in its award-winning music program, participation by Black and Latinx students in the music programs after 5th grade falls significantly and falls even further after 8th grade. BMIE’s goal is to make music education accessible and exciting for all students by removing barriers.
BMIE reaches out to youth in Berkeley and offers programming to diversify jazz players and audiences, including a mentoring program that matches BHS Jazz students with younger musicians. As part of this innovative program, BHS music students provide elementary and middle grade students biweekly 30-minute music lessons for an entire school year. The program is intended to encourage students of color to continue with music studies beyond elementary and middle school and to mitigate the historical drop-off in participation that occurs among students of color during the transition to middle and high school. The program is designed to provide support for recipients as well as resources for guardians, while assigning service credits to mentors for their commitment and dedication.
We also hold BMIE Day, an event that brings together local artists of color, every February. The goal of this day is to make our music programs welcoming to Black and Latinx students, and to encourage their participation through middle and high school.
Our scholarship program offers financial support to allow more BUSD students to pursue private lessons on their instruments. This expands the pool of qualified students who audition for the BHS Jazz program.
The Bill Bennett Scholarship Fund was established in memory of William Bennett. Bill was a Principal Oboist with the San Francisco Symphony and a parent of a BHS Jazz student. He was a big supporter of Berkeley High Jazz and a huge jazz fan. The Bill Bennett Scholarship Fund provides scholarships of between $500 - $1000 (varying by year, depending on available funds) to students in BHS Jazz classes to help with instrumental lessons or music programs to further students’ jazz skills. Eligibility requirements are current enrollment in a Lab Band or Ensemble and demonstration of financial need. Scholarships are reviewed annually.
About the Scholarship: The BHS Jazz Association pays private teachers directly. The recipient’s family will schedule the lessons, contribute at least $5 per lesson, and communicate with the teacher about their fee. The recipient will ask the teacher to send an invoice to BHS Jazz Association for each month’s lessons, showing the portion that has already been paid by the family.
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