Heritage School of Music Program History

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Teaching the performance technique and theory of jazz since 1990.

For details about the current offerings of the Heritage School of Music, please see www.heritageschoolofmusic.org.


New Orleans is a city of musical dynasties. The sounds of our culture have been passed down through the generations, to be refreshed or reinvented by the creativity of our children.

For the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, our mission could not be complete without a vibrant education component. The Don “Moose” Jamison Heritage School of Music is the cornerstone of that effort.

Started in 1990 by Edward “Kidd” Jordan, the patriarch of one of our leading jazz clans, the Heritage School of Music provides free, weekly after-school instruction to teen-agers from throughout the New Orleans region.

From the beginning, Jordan’s philosophy has been to give young musicians a solid grounding in the basics of music performance and theory, so that as they mature they can find their own voice.

“I try to help them with their instrument and with the jazz vocabulary,” Jordan says. “Then they can take it and do something with it.”

Students who have passed through the Heritage School of Music include some of the hottest names on New Orleans’ music scene, among them Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Sammie “Big Sam” Williams and Shamarr Allen. Heritage School students also have gone on to attend some of the most prestigious conservatories in the country, including the Berklee College of Music and The Juliard School.

After Hurricane Katrina, the Heritage School of Music moved from its longtime home at Southern University at New Orleans to the Lusher Charter High School. In 2007, the program expanded to include Saturday classes at Dillard University and other local schools.

In addition to providing free music education to young people in the community, the Heritage School of Music creates employment opportunities for the musicians who serve as teachers. These have included some of the city’s most respected performers, such as Edward “Kidd” Jordan, Kent Jordan, Germaine Bazzle, Jonathan Bloom, Edward Anderson, Leah Chase, Geoff Clapp, Brent Rose and Jesse McBride.

The Heritage School of Music also provides professional performance opportunities for the students, with appearances at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, the French Quarter Festival, the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival and other events.

The Heritage School of Music is named in honor of Don “Moose” Jamison, a beloved jazz authority and longtime disc jockey on radio station WWOZ, who as a Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation board member, played a leading role in establishing the program. He died in 2003.

At a time when New Orleans faces extraordinary challenges, especially in the realm of public education, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation is moving steadfastly to reinforce the role of music and culture in the lives of our youth.

In 2010, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation named Derek Douget as the new coordinator of the Heritage School of Music. In addition to Derek, who teaches woodwinds, the teaching faculty consists of: Edward “Kidd” Jordan (fundamentals); Michael Pellera (piano); Peter Harris  (bass); Don Vappie and Davey Mooney (guitar); Leon Brown (brass);  Ricky Sebastian and Gene Black (drums); and Leah Chase (voice).

In 2015, after 25 years of operating as a guest on the campuses of local universities (at Southern University at New Orleans from 1990 to 2005, and at Dillard University from 2007 to 2014) the Heritage School of Music moved to its first-ever permanent home: the newly-built George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center, a state-of-the-art education and community facility located adjacent to the Jazz & Heritage Foundation offices in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans.

In 2016, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation expanded the Heritage School to accommodate students who are younger, who have little or no experience with learning music and who don't own instruments. Thus was born our new program HSM Beginners, which teaches first-time music learners as young as age 8. Classes are held on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons, depending on the student's ability level.

More recently, the Jazz & Heritage Foundation has continued to expand its education programs with new offerings. We now provide free vocal workshops for teenagers in collaboration with the New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORD) at facilities around the city. We also offer workshops for teenagers in pro audio technology for studio recording and live concert environments.

For information on how to participate in the Heritage School of Music or any of our other educational programs, please see www.heritageschoolofmusic.org.

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The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.