Hello everyone. I’m Sean Jones, the President of the Jazz Education Network. And this is our May Presidential address. I hope that you are all enjoying a much needed break, if you’re ending the semester or winding down your activities in high school, middle school or wherever you are. For me, it’s a really wonderful time of year for a few reasons.
But the main reason for me is that it’s my birthday! Yes, it is my birthday, May 29th. And I have gone around the sun on earth 43 times. Yes, 43 times. And during this time I always reflect, I think about where I’ve gone, what I’ve been doing, weighed the cons, celebrated the pros, all of those things.
Around this time of year, I also specifically look back on my time in education. And one of my most memorable moments was when Dr. Larry Ridley, who was the president of the African-American Jazz Caucus, invited me to come out and perform with the big band out in Long Beach. And this is when there was an organization called The IAJE, International Association of Jazz Educators.
It was a big deal for me, and it was a big deal because I had never been around that many jazz people, that many people that were into the same stuff that I was into, playing as best as they could trying to learn and being around that many educators; it was totally new for me. It was, like, mind blowing! And I thought to myself, Wow, I’m a part of a huge community here.
Fast forward twenty some-odd years later, I am now the president of an organization called JEN, the Jazz Education Network. It is a true honor to be the president of this organization. As I look back on my dive, deep dive into jazz education way back then, and the reason I bring all of that up now is because while I’m reflecting on this time period, I’m also projecting on the future, and the future is bright.
Now we’ve gone through 2020. It’s been a tumultuous year. It’s been a tumultuous time. I’m sure many of you have questioned whether or not you want to even continue in music, but we’re here. WE ARE HERE. We stood fast and we have been resilient.
Speaking of resilience, I am so happy that we are launching our Resilience Campaign with the Jazz Education Network. And we have a modest goal of $25,000. And so what I’m asking all of you, in honor of my birthday, as I look back and project, I’m asking all of you to help us reach that goal. I’m giving what I give; give what you can, no dollar amount is too small. And of course, no dollar amount is too big!
Now, as I’m reflecting on that time, I think of myself being from a small community, being from Warren, Ohio, being one of the cats that wasn’t expected to be here at all. I’m bringing this message to you from the Peabody Conservatory in our new jazz suite, where I’m the chair of jazz studies here–a kid like me from Warren, Ohio, is not supposed to be able to do that. I’m supposed to be somewhere doing, God knows what, but I’m here. And I’m thankful for that. And I do believe that it’s because jazz education was there in my formative years, that I was able to become the man that I am right now. And I really, frankly, can’t imagine life without jazz education.
So, in order to keep these organizations going, we have to support them. And in my view, the Jazz Education Network is the preeminent organization for jazz education and networking.
And so we’ve stood the test of time, we’ve gotten through 2020, not only survived, but we thrived, and we are here with you and we do hope that you continue to support us.
I’ll be here and we’ll all be here for you.
Help me celebrate my birthday, and let’s get there.