THE POWER OF A NETWORK
by Caleb Chapman (JEN President)
Over the last few years as I prepared to take on the role of JEN President, I informally questioned members about the most important aspect of JEN for them individually. I wanted to know what it was about their membership that brought them the most value. As we are a conference driven organization, I guessed that the response would be attending our annual gathering each January. I was surprised after I heard time and again that, in fact, the aspect our members enjoy most is the opportunity to network and “hang” with other members of the vast JEN community.
This realization made me reflect on the ways I have taken advantage of the network JEN provides. As I started to think it through, I began to see how dramatically connecting with other members has influenced my career, my own development, and especially, my students. Here is just one brief example:
Back in 2012 I received an invitation to have my ensemble, the Crescent Super Band, headline their own night at Carnegie Hall. We were able to secure one of the musical heroes of my youth, David Sanborn, as a guest artist and I wanted the perfect songs to showcase him. I thought of my favorite arrangers and the names John Clayton and Greg Yasinitsky immediately came to mind. While I had been a fan of John’s writing for many years, I was able to work alongside him for the first time at JEN. And, while I have known Greg for many years, it was through our frequent interactions at JEN that we became close friends. Because of JEN and my relationship with them, both graciously agreed to write arrangements featuring Mr. Sanborn for our Carnegie performance that made the night nothing short of spectacular. That would not have been possible without our network.
And of course, that is just the tip of the iceberg. From my connections made at JEN I have hired an employee from another state, contracted guest artists and clinicians, signed multiple endorsement deals, commissioned new music, been mentored, been hired to direct all state bands and the Jazz Band of America, collaborated on recordings, been hired to do clinics, been hired to speak, booked international performances, helped colleagues find employment, and much more. These are all opportunities that I would not have been able to take advantage of without JEN.
As I type this, I have just completed yet another amazing experience owed entirely to my JEN membership. I am on my first-ever concert tour in the United Kingdom and just performed a joint concert in Derby, England with Jon Eno and his terrifically talented high school aged musicians from the Hot House Music School. Jon has a massive program of many types of groups, which includes a fantastic jazz ensemble. Jon and his students welcomed us to Derby, fed us dinner, and hosted a joint concert with two of our Soundhouse bands from Utah along with the Hot House Jazz Ensemble. The students from both programs hit it off instantly and were laughing, sharing stories, and exchanging contact and social media info even before the show began. The concert we presented featured an impromptu closer with both big bands, one from the US and one from England, on stage simultaneously raising the roof.
At the conclusion of the concert and after taking tons of photos, none of the kids wanted to go and they found their way to the soccer field behind the venue and played an informal game of soccer in their concert attire until it was simply too dark to see any longer. It was a night none of them will ever forget.
And how did this come about? Because at a meeting during our JEN conference in Louisville last January, Jon introduced himself to me and talked about his program in the UK. The discussion lasted no more than 5 minutes. But it was 5 minutes that changed the lives on my students thanks to JEN!
Today I am at the International Society for Music Education (ISME) Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. I hosted a jam session tonight at the conference with Martin Norgaard who I met at JEN. The day after tomorrow I have a band performing on the main stage of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall because of an invitation I received to submit from Kim McCord, who I met at – you guessed it – JEN.
Make no doubt about it, JEN’s international network is vast and powerful! And let’s be honest, there is nothing like hanging with longtime friends and colleagues at the conference. While the JEN Board and our Membership Committee are on the verge of launching a host of incredible member benefits, I don’t know that any of those benefits will ever surpass the value of connecting with our community. This fact wasn’t lost on our organization’s founders, Lou Fischer and Mary Jo Papich. In fact, they recognized the importance of those connections and included it in the name.
Whether you are a longtime member or new to the organization, I invite each of you to think about how your JEN connections have created opportunities for you and your students. I think that, like me, you might be surprised by how much value you have already received from the world’s best jazz network. And while you are at it, be sure to register now for what is looking to be our largest conference yet in New Orleans in January 2017!
In addition to his role as JEN President, Caleb Chapman is Founder and President of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse, Director of the Crescent Super Band, and Artistic Director for Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts. He serves on several boards including the Utah Arts Council, and is an award-winning musician, producer, educator, author, and speaker. To learn more about Caleb, please visit www.ccsoundhouse.com.