The Summer Jazz Arts Institute provides inspirational training in cross-modal teaching methods for classroom teachers, arts specialists and teaching artists.


July 5 – 7, 2017 — 9 am – 5pm


Laguardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Ave., Queens, NY 11101

Lehman Stages, Lehman College
250 Bedford Park Blvd W
Bronx, NY 10468


$50/day plus one-time $15 registration fee.

This program is presented with support from The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery and individual donors.

Register now!


Wednesday, July 5 9am-5pm, Laguardia Community College, Queens, NY
Introduction to teaching for new teaching artists.

Thursday and Friday, July 6 and 7 9am-5pm, Lehman College, Bronx, NY
Jazz Power Initiative teaching practice for all artists and teachers.

Special Guest Presenters

Award winning author and musician James McBride and Theatre Director and LaGuardia Associate Professor Stephanie Sertich.

James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, “The Color of Water,” rested on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. It is considered an American classic and is read in schools and universities across the United States.  His debut novel,  “Miracle at St. Anna” was translated into a major motion picture directed by American film icon Spike Lee. It was released by Disney/Touchstone in September 2008.  James wrote the script for “Miracle At St. Anna and co-wrote Spike Lee’s 2012 “Red Hook Summer.” His novel, “Song Yet Sung,” was released in paperback in January 2009. His recent novel “The Good Lord Bird,” about American revolutionary John Brown, is the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. James toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz legend Jimmy Scott, among others. He has also written songs (music and lyrics) for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Purafe, Gary Burton, and even for the PBS television character “Barney.” He did not write the “I Love You” song for Barney but wishes he did. He received the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award for his musical “Bo-Bos” co-written with playwright Ed Shockley.  His  2003 “Riffin’ and Pontificatin’ ” Musical Tour was captured in a nationallly televised Comcast documentary. He has been featured on national radio and television in America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. He often does his readings accompanied by a band. James is a native New Yorker and a graduate of  New York City public schools. He studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

Stefanie Sertich is an Associate Professor and Program Director of Theatre at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY, and the LaGuardia Mellon Humanities Scholars Coordinator for the Humanities Alliance. She is also the Co-Chair of the Kennedy Center’s American Collegiate Theatre Festival (KCACTF), Region I. She directs new works, musicals and creates devised theatre pieces for social change. OFF Broadway directing credits include the world premiere of Eduardo Machado’s Havana Journal,  (INTAR Theatre), Heathens by Heather Hill (Theatre for the New City), Daughters of the Sexual Revolution by Dana Leslie Goldstein (Workshop Theatre) Off the Kings Road by Neil Koenigsberg (Theatre for the New City) Museum Pieces by Laura Marks (Prospect Theatre) and Like you Like It by Sammy Buck (Broadway Workshop) along with several readings. At LaGuardia, Prof. Sertich has directed several plays, including “Passing Strange” and “In The Heights.” She has also developed a series of devised works with students on contemporary social justice issues, entitled, “Unpacking American Identity” with Steven Hitt, Artistic Director of the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Her current projects include the show, Intersections (on tour Spring 2017), a collaboration with The Women’s Bridge Initiative on Alyson Mead’s The Flora and Fauna (in cross-country readings), and her film, Raisin/Rosedale, which premiered at the Queens World Film Festival, and will be shown in the CUNY Film Festival in April 2017. Prof. Sertich has a BA in Acting from Western Michigan University, and an MFA in Directing from the University of Portland. She recently won the Innovative Teaching Award from KCACTF and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, and is the University of Portland’s 2017 Contemporary Alumni Winner.

Summer Jazz Arts Institute Faculty

Eli Yamin, pianist, composer and singer is the co-founder, Managing and Artistic Director of JAZZ POWER INITIATIVE (formerly The Jazz Drama Program), a non profit, 501(c)3 organization that transforms lives through jazz arts education. Eli has performed in New York at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center and the White House and on tour in over 20 countries as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. He has been an organizer and proselytizer for jazz and youth for thirty years since beginning his career as a producer and on-air host on WBGO/Jazz 88 in Newark, New Jersey. Eli co-writes jazz musicals for young people and has published with Clifford Carlson, NORA’s ARK, about breaking social dogma to address environmental crisis, HOLDING THE TORCH FOR LIBERTY, about the fight for women’s suffrage, and MESSAGE FROM SATURN, a space odyssey about the healing power of the blues.  The musicals have been performed in four languages in five countries and 14 states in the U.S. Eli Yamin’s Cd’s as a bandleader include YOU CAN’T BUY SWING with jazz quartet, I FEEL SO GLAD, with blues band and LOUIE’S DREAM, for our jazz heroes with New Orleans based clarinetist Evan Christopher. Eli is the founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy and led the program for ten years providing a groundbreaking model for youth, creativity and culture centered jazz education. He also filmed over 75 instructional videos for the online learning portal, The Jazz Academy, and co-authored a manual for teaching jazz to middle school students.  He is working on a book called SO YOU WANT TO SING THE BLUES, to be published in 2018 by Rowman and Littlefield in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  Currently Eli teaches courses in blues and jazz history and singing at Marymount College Manhattan. He was raised on the bandstand and mentored by jazz masters Walter Perkins, Barry Harris, Illinois Jacquet, Mercedes Ellington and Amiri Baraka.  He holds a Bachelor’s in Music from Rutgers University, a Masters degree in music education from Lehman College, City University of New York and is a level III certified teacher of Somatic Voicework™, the LoVetri method.

Shireen Dickson is Dance Director and President of the Board of Jazz Power Initiative, formerly The Jazz Drama Program. She has been choreographer-in-residence since 1999 and has danced with award winning choreographer Dianne McIntyre at major dance festivals, Universities, Broadway and regional theatres for over 15 years. Shireen co-founded Duke University’s Collegium for African Diaspora Dance and has developed curriculum and arts-based professional development programs for Dance Parade NYC, Elizabeth Streb and the NYC Dept of Education. Shireen directs the Okra Dance Company, which presents programs in world and folk rhythmic dances, and African and African American vernacular styles. She holds a Masters Degree in the History of African American Dance from New York University.

Tom Dempsey has performed and/or recorded with a virtual “Who’s Who” of world renowned jazz musicians including: Wynton Marsalis, George Coleman, Kenny Barron, Roy Haynes and Bobby McFerrin. Currently he is Currently he is an Associate Professor of Music at LaGuardia Community College and on the faculty at Jazz at Lincoln Center. He has authored several books on jazz guitar and filmed hundreds of instructional videos inspiring students across the globe.

Antoinette Montague has a love of humanity and mission to bring joy to people through music. Known as one of the hardest working women in jazz and blues Antoinette has played at New York City’s major clubs and concert halls including Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kitano, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola, and is a regularly featured favorite at the popular Harlem-based Jazz Mobile Concert Series at Marcus Garvey Park’s Richard Rogers Theater and Grants Tomb. Overseas she has performed with the 46-piece Ashdod Orchestra in Israel and the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in Russia. NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath says, “Antoinette has the instrument, delivery and enunciation, when performing, that touches my soul.” Like Sarah Vaughn, Whitney Houston, James Moody, Melba Moore, Antoinette Montague was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She was drawn to the music by her mother who was always singing and sounded like Ella Fitzgerald. Montague’s interest was further jump started by her dad. “On Saturdays my dad would drop me off at the Newark Public Library on his way to work. There I would listen to Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.” Years later Montague met up with the renowned Carrie Smith and Etta Jones who became her mentors. “Etta encouraged me. It’s going to be wonderful,” she said. Montague released her first CD, Pretty Blues, in 2006, and Behind The Smile in 2011 featuring renowned pianist Mulgrew Miller, drummer Kenny Washington, saxophonist Bill Easley, and bassist Peter Washington. Her new release, World Peace in the Key of Jazz – 2015, is a celebration of American roots and peace music recently submitted to the Grammys. Ms. Montague has appeared on the cover of Hot House, Jazz Improv NY Magazines and on two book covers of Who’s Who in Jazz, Cabaret and Music. She has completed two tours of Russia with Eli Yamin as a Jazz and Blues Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State.

Marion Cowings, Jazz singer, is a native New Yorker and master of scat and vocal technique. Marion attended Music and Art, now known as LaGuardia High School, where he was chosen to perform as a solo vocalist with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. While still in high school Cowings’ first professional engagement was at the Randall’s Island Jazz Festival with “Little Pony” Poindextor and the Ike Isaac’s Trio. During this time Marion began to understudy Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert and Ross. Eventually Marion became Lambert’s original replacement and was then mentored by Jon Hendricks. In 1984, after leading rhythm & blues and rock bands, Cowings teamed up with jazz vocalist Kim Kalesti. Together they performed hundreds of concerts and recording several albums. They also founded the Vocal Jazz Department at New York University and were adjunct professors for eleven years. Marion’s smooth baritone voice and considerable range has been delighting audiences around the world for decades. He has performed at the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Blue Note, Village Vanguard and many prestigious venues abroad. He is also the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant and Clio Award. Today, Cowings regularly performs and holds Jazz Vocal workshops at the world famous Small’s Jazz Club in the West Village.

More Info on Summer Jazz Arts Institute

Summer Jazz Arts Institute provides an ideal framework for teachers, arts specialists and teaching artists to build their knowledge and skill teaching jazz arts awakening deeper imagination, discipline, community and trust with their students. The introductory day on Wednesday, July 5 welcomes participants who are new to teaching. The core of the institute for all artists and teachers will take place on July 6 and 7, at Lehman College where participants will be immersed in activities and discussions around teaching jazz through multiple modalities of singing, dancing, theatre, writing and visual arts. Master Classes will be led by Summer Jazz Arts Institute Staff as well as guest master teachers.

Participants will be from a wide range of experience in the field from college students who are relatively new to teaching artist work to experienced teachers and artists with a decade of experience. A safe and challenging learning environment will be created where breakthroughs will be made in understanding the jazz arts in a more comprehensive and dynamic way.

“Jazz Arts provide tools for exceptionally effective and transformational learning. Improvisation, syncopation, swing and making a soulful sound in coordination and interaction with others brings out the best in each individual learner while helping her become a better listener and more responsive and supportive community member.”