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Jazz in Schools was initiated by the Los Angeles Jazz Society in 1988 and provides free age-appropriate jazz education performances by professional musicians in LAUSD elementary schools with the purpose of introducing young people to the world of jazz.  All of the concerts are scheduled during the month of February, Black History Month, to recognize the cultural contribution of African Americans in creating this uniquely American music that has been embraced by the entire world.  In order to include the entire City of Los Angeles and reach the most in-need, schools are selected to represent all fifteen City Council districts equally.

The music program was designed by a Jazz Hall of Fame artist especially for young people; to educate, excite and engage them with the rhythm and vibrant sounds of jazz, and with program additions by creative jazz musician/teacher performers, the concert has evolved into an exciting interactive and memorable music education experience for elementary school children.   Three separate groups of musicians present over 60 concerts which benefit more than 16,000 elementary school children. The musicians selected to perform are among the finest jazz artist/educators in Los Angeles and have played with nationally and internationally known jazz artists.  During concerts, students are introduced to the instruments and their capabilities; they see a demonstration of how the musicians relate to each other in the improvisational style of jazz; they are exposed to different forms of jazz and hear how they developed historically; they learn how jazz is related to current forms of pop music and they interact with musicians in clapping, marching and dancing.  Students learn about Latin jazz as introduced by a Spanish-speaking musician and they learn that jazz provides equal opportunity for women from a female member of the group.

Jazz in Schools is a three-part sequential program beginning with a Pre-Concert Preparation Package sent to schools prior to the concert. The package was prepared by the founder of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California and consists of a PowerPoint Teaching Outline on jazz and musical examples representing artists and music presented in the Outline.  Teachers are provided with a Post- Concert Reinforcement Package to capture children’s enthusiasm for the music in creative activities which includes a jazz quiz and stimulating discussion questions.  The Los Angeles Jazz Society has created a Spotify Playlist containing historically important jazz music and musicians providing an opportunity for students to continue listening to jazz.  All materials are donated to the school for future use.  The LAUSD school district partners with the Jazz Society in forwarding the packages and information to schools. 

Unlike many school music assemblies which are “concert only”, Jazz in Schools seeks to make the concert a learning and fun experience by preparing the students for the concert and by including their active participation. With the purpose of creating future jazz audiences and musicians, students are encouraged to listen to jazz and to consider studying a musical instrument. 

Administrators and teachers have reported that the students are not only excited about the concerts, but that they also retain much of the information.  A common response is, “This was the best assembly I have ever seen,” and “This was an experience our children will never forget.”  Many students have responded that they now want to learn to play an instrument.

Jazz in Schools is under the direction of a committee consisting of board members, educators, musicians and other members of the community who bring special expertise in planning and evaluating the project


Jazz in Schools is a three- part sequential program beginning with a teacher Pre-concert Preparations Package; a PowerPoint teaching outline on jazz with musical examples by important  jazz artists.   As a follow-up to the concert, teachers are provided with a third part Concert Reinforcement Package to capture children’s enthusiasm for the music in creative activities which includes a jazz quiz and stimulating discussion questions.  The Los Angeles Jazz Society has created a Spotify Playlist containing  important jazz music and musicians providing an opportunity for students to continue listening to jazz.  

Please see links to the Power-Point and the Spotify playlist.

Updated name: Jazz in Schools – Los Angeles Jazz Society

Spotify Playlist

The following is a terrific example of songs that our students may enjoy. And, should check back periodically as it will be updated throughout the year.

To open the Spotify Playlist: Click Here


– Click below to watch a video on Jazz in Schools –



Click on arrow to begin the PowerPoint



Jazz in Schools employs three jazz combos of five musicians.  All of the musicians are among the finest and most experienced jazz musician/educators in Los Angeles.

Group leaders

RYAN CROSS: Ryan Cross is a name that is synonymous with professionalism and musical excellence. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Ryan moved to Los Angeles, California when he received a full scholarship to attend the University of Southern California where he studied under John Clayton. He graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies. He has appeared and recorded on over 100 TV shows and movies to date, including Glee, Friends, ER, The West Wing, Studio 60, Cold Case, Along Came Polly and Poseidon. He has also graced the recording studio and stage with Beyoncé, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Arturo Sandoval, Jill Scott, John Legend, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan. Ryan produces live shows weekly at the world renown The Peppermint Club, Blind Dragon and The Sofitel Hotel where he features the world’s top jazz musicians and vocalists. For several years, he has maintained a strong relationship with the The Los Angeles Jazz Society and has gone out to many schools in the Los Angeles’ Unified School District to spark the interest of children to play music. Most recently, Ryan won a Grammy Award with his participation on Beyoncé’s album Lemonade.

Charles Owens:  Known as a consummate musician’s musician, Charles Owens has worked with Gerald Wilson, Miles Davis Duke Ellington and Buddy rich among others.  He is a master woodwind musician who maintains professional proficiency on tenor, alto, soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon and English horn.  His skilled musicianship and rare ability to produce original sounds on all of these instruments places him in demand as a jazz artist of international repute.   Owens is well-known as a teacher who is busy as a faculty member of UC Irvine.   He says his greatest passion is teaching young people.

Dr. Bobby Rodriguez:  Latin legend and Grammy Nominated recording artist Dr. Bobby Rodriguez is a trumpeter, author, and an award-winning educator. He is a professor of Jazz and Latin Jazz at UCLA, UC Irvine, and Pasadena City College, very involved in the community and is a Salesian graduate and former student body President (’68).

His impressive dedication to music has allowed him to perform or record with an illustrious array of world-class musicians including Quincy Jones, Lalo Schifrin, Arturo Sandoval, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Chaka Kahn, Gerald Wilson, Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and many others. Dr. Rodriguez has earned a Gold and three Platinum records, produced six of his own recordings. He is currently writing his third publication, “ABC’s of Jazz Improvisation.” 

2022 Schedule – TBD


• Jazz In Schools – Media