Welcome To Higher Academia

Greetings JEN family,

We hope that you had a fantastic summer and we hope that you’re gearing up for the fall. Before I began this month’s Presidential message, our thoughts and prayers go out to all of our friends and family in the Gulf coast. And in New Orleans specifically, you’ve hosted us many times and you’re an amazing city, the cradle of jazz, and you have our support. We love you. We’re praying for you. And we know that you’re resilient and you’re going to get through this. And we’re there for you.

This month’s presidential message is coming to you and the spirit of solidarity and the spirit of mentorship and the spirit of collegiality, all of those things. I’ve noticed over the past several months that many of my colleagues, wonderful musicians, are now taking full-time teaching positions. And I feel that that is a fantastic thing. It made me think a little bit more about my role And jazz education.

Some 20 years ago, I decided to split my time, literally 50/50 between education and performance, knowing that at some point down the road, there were going to be a few other colleagues of mine that were going to think about getting into a higher academia, specifically teaching at colleges, universities around the world, and that time has come. And it’s very exciting for me. I made a wager during that time with a few friends that this day was going to come, that there were going to be more professional musicians deciding to literally split their time between education and performance.

In my view, in order to be a great educator, you have to be a great performer. I also feel that in order to be a great performer, you have to be able to communicate and educate your concepts on multiple levels. And so it’s, again, it’s exciting for me to see so many fantastic musicians going into education right now, specifically in full-time positions.

Now, the message that I want to say to those folks is that we are here for you. If you need anything from us, if you need support regarding textbooks, what, what textbooks should I get? If you need PDFs, if you need syllabus templates. If you need a little bit of advice, how to deal with the upper administration, how to deal with your student’s attendance policies. There are so many things that are going to come your way this fall and throughout your entire career, and perhaps at some point you may feel a little overwhelmed by it. I know I did in the beginning, and I literally was intimidated by some of my peers because they had been in it for a long time.

So the other side of that message is this, for those of you that have been in education for a decade or two decades or three decades or four, it is time for us to step up and let these folks know that they have our support. Lend them a hand, give them a call. If you know who they are, if you don’t know who they are, find their email, send them an email and say, Hey, listen, I’m there for you. If there’s anything that I could do for you, please let me know.

At the end of the day, we are all in this for the music, literally all in it for the music, and it’s important for us to realize that we have a unique opportunity at this time to take jazz education and mentorship to the next level, because we have folks that are out in the field, playing the music at a high level of extremely high artistic level all around the world and are in the classroom, more now than ever before.

And so those of you, again, that are just getting into this, and you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. The Jazz Education Network, specifically, is here for you.

That is our purpose.
That is our goal.
That is our mission.

For those of us that have been teaching for a long time, when I say a long time I’m talking about over a decade, (smile) please step up to the plate and let’s support our colleagues as they endeavor, and they go into this field, which can be very daunting. We’re all here for one another, and let’s continue to make this wonderful field of Jazz Education Network in and committed to rise

Much love, y’all. Thank you. And let’s go get them this fall,

Have a great school year.

-Sean Jones