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About the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance is the world’s most intensive college-level jazz education program.  It brings together the most gifted young jazz musicians to study under the tutelage of the greatest living jazz masters.  The students receive full scholarships, as well as stipends to cover their room, board, and other living expenses.  This program creates an environment in which aspiring jazz musicians can grow into the musical leaders of the future.  The performance-based school, which opened in September 1995, is expected to become the model for all jazz education programs.  Renowned trumpeter and film composer Terence Blanchard serves as the Artistic Director.

In the 1940s and 1950s, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and others would congregate at Thelonious Monk’s house to learn from each other and to share their musical knowledge.  New York City was filled with clubs where young jazz musicians could sit in with more experienced players to learn as well as to challenge themselves.  In today’s world no such environment exists.  Young musicians are almost completely disconnected from the masters of jazz and the great musicians have no avenue to pass on their knowledge.

The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance seeks to recreate the nurturing environment of the 1940s and ’50s.  Every two years, the Institute of Jazz Performance selects a handful of students to participate in the program.  These young musicians come from around the world and are chosen based on their talent, dedication and potential.  Their instructors are America’s greatest jazz musicians including Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Slide Hampton, Barry Harris, Jimmy Heath and Clark Terry, among others.  The students study both individually and as a small group, receiving personal mentoring, ensemble coaching, and lectures on jazz tradition.  Through this program, the knowledge and expertise of the masters of this art form is passed on to the next generation of jazz musicians.

During their two years in the program, students have a number of unique learning and performance opportunities.  In 1996, the students traveled with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter to India and Thailand, where they presented a series of master classes and performances.  In 1998, the students traveled to Chile, Argentina and Peru, where they performed before 34 heads of state at the Summit of the Americas and conducted master classes.  In 2001, the students traveled with Herbie Hancock and Vanessa Rubin to Egypt, where they taught and performed in Cairo and Alexandria, representing the U.S. Department of State.  In 2002 and again in 2003 and 2004, the students traveled with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and T.S. Monk to Paris, where they performed at a United Nations “International Day of Philosophy” event presented by UNESCO.  In 2005, the students accompanied Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Nnenna Freelon on a State Department-sponsored tour of Vietnam commemorating the 10th anniversary of the United States and Vietnam resuming diplomatic relations.  In 2007, the students traveled with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter on a State Department-sponsored tour of India.  The group performed in Calcutta, Delhi, and Mumbai in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence movement.

The students of this program graduate with all the skills needed to preserve the jazz tradition and the dedication to carry jazz music forward in the 21st century. 

Sarah Andrew Wilson
Special Projects Coordinator
Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz
5225 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 605
Washington, DC  20015
tel 202.364.7272 / fax 202.364.0176

Contact information:
Loyola University New Orleans
College of Music and Fine Arts
6363 St. Charles Ave., Box 8
New Orleans, LA 70118
Phone: 504-865-3037

Updated April 4, 2007