Jazz Power Youth Education

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Youth training in singing, dance and theatre in diverse and culturally aware environments, to cultivate courage, curiosity, and compassion.

Jazz Power Initiative’s music education program centers African American vocal traditions supported by healthy functional voice training and piano keyboard musicianship combined with theatre and movement for an immersive and transformational learning experience. Our holistic, cross-cultural, and multidisciplinary approach to jazz music and arts education activates an inclusive atmosphere that fosters teamwork, self-discipline and creative expression. African American and Latino cultural foundations of jazz arts guide our process, including the models of excellence we provide the children, the background of our faculty, the repertoire we select, the communities we serve, and the “Jazz Power Tools” we teach such as improvisation, making a soulful sound, call and response, syncopation, and swing. Students are given ongoing opportunities to perform with professional artists and present their talents in a wide variety of venues including presentations of Jazz Power musicals for youth performers.

Our culturally relevant pedagogy increases artistic and social emotional skills and is in alignment with New York City, State and National arts learning standards, as well as best voice practices published by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). The resulting data from evaluations and assessments from teaching artists and students allows us to assess the success of our program by identifying areas of student growth.

Our voice pedagogy cultivates awareness of voice function for healthy, expressive and free singing in African American singing traditions that form the foundation of many styles of American singing; including jazz, blues, gospel, R & B, rock, pop, and country. Our dance pedagogy uses African American dance traditions to increase kinesthetic, spatial, and musical awareness, and our theatre pedagogy explores key questions for the actor in a scene in support of internalizing lyrics of Jazz Power songs as well as basic stage directions.

Our multi-tiered recruitment strategy ensures we reach a majority underserved African American and Latin American population with tuition-free training year around. Jazz Power introduces over 600 children ages 10-18 to jazz each year and provides high quality direct instruction to over 250 students who receive up to 130 hours of instruction and performance opportunities annually. During our scaffolded cycle, students are immersed in jazz culture through the study of voice, dance, and theatre in group classes with acclaimed teaching artists, private lessons in piano keyboard and voice, and given a piano keyboard to take home and keep in support of the development of musicianship. 

Students who participate in two or more years in the program are invited to participate in Zah! Ensemble, our advanced youth ensemble that rehearses weekly and performs frequently throughout the year with a band of seasoned professionals. Performances include the Clean Energy Inaugural Ball for President Joe Biden and Vice President, Kamala Harris, The United Palace in Washington Heights honoring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jazz at Lincoln Center, JazzMobile/Summerfest at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem, as well as our own Intergenerational Jazz Power Jam at National Jazz Museum in Harlem, and Jazz Power Uptown! festival in Inwood Hill Park.

The organization provides preparatory support for students in their program, wishing to apply to specialized high schools such as La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School, Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, and many others. Additionally, JPI has helped numerous students pursuing higher academic learning and receive scholarships to prestigious colleges and universities.


Managing and Artistic Director and Jazz Power Initiative co-founder Eli Yamin is an award winning pianist, composer, singer, producer and educator who has been spreading the joy of jazz through his work for 30 years including 10 years as founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy. Dr. Eli has released eight CD’s featuring his compositions, published three youth centered jazz musicals in four languages and has performed at The White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and over 20 countries as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State. Dr. Eli sincerely believes learning about jazz should feel as creative as playing jazz and consistently shares this experience with students of all ages. He has written a book, So You Want to Sing the Blues, published by Rowman and Littlefield in partnership with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and recorded over 100 interactive videos for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy reaching nearly two million views. He has a BA in Music from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, a Masters Degree in Music Education from Lehman College, City University of New York and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY).

Theatre teacher, director, Kena Onyejekwe, is an actor and musician whose credits includes co-writing, co-producing, and performing lead vocals for the album WE ARE by Stylophonic which was distributed by Universal Music Italy.  Regionally he has performed in Marley at Center Stage in Baltimore and To Kill a Mockingbird at Virginia Public Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. His film and TV appearances include the film Begin Again on Netflix and The View on ABC. Mr. Onyejekwe is an alum of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and for the past fifteen years he has created, implemented, and facilitated several theater productions and education programs in theaters, community centers, schools, churches, and summer camps around the New York City area.

Antoinette Montague has a love of humanity and mission to bring joy to people through music, 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. NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Heath says, “Antoinette has the instrument, delivery and enunciation, when performing, that touches my soul.” Her latest acclaimed release is World Peace in the Key of Jazz and features her arrangements of classic songs from the Civil Rights movement.

This is Jazz Power Youth!

  • Zah! member, Terese, sings Have Yourself a Mery Little Christmas at our Inwood Studios