Music professor Herbie Hancock is already a jazz legend, with a lengthy discography and 14 Grammy Awards. But he knows his musical legacy will live on in a special way through the students he trains. That’s one reason he devotes so much time to young jazz musicians at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.
Hancock came to UCLA in 2012 with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance. The institute accepts only a handful of exceptionally gifted musicians, called fellows. Enrolled primarily in UCLA’s graduate division, the fellows play together in a performance ensemble and work with Hancock, Wayne Shorter and other outstanding jazz artists and educators. The fellowship is a matchless opportunity to soak up music theory, composition and performance, as well as to receive expert instruction in the business of music.
And the mentorship doesn’t stop there. The fellows, in turn, share their passion for music with the larger Los Angeles community. In addition to playing jazz at public performances, they present clinics and master classes, and teach individual lessons to younger students. So the musical legacy spreads beyond the campus, inspiring yet another generation.
That puts the Thelonious Monk Institute Ensemble solidly in the tradition of music outreach at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. One of the first universities to teach jazz as a uniquely American art form, UCLA has always made music for Los Angeles. Since 1996, musical ensembles have been performing throughout the area, with special attention to audiences who might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear live jazz and classical music.
During the school year, music students give as many as 10 concerts a week. Hundreds of local K-12 students make field trips to UCLA to hear concerts and opera, and to meet music majors and hear about what it means to study music at UCLA.
UCLA music students also provide weekly lessons for dozens of middle school and high school youths. This mentoring provides the foundation for chorale groups, ensembles and bands at four partnership sites in underserved areas: Crenshaw High School, Bret Harte Middle School, Bursch Elementary School and the Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood.
Because optimists know that the more voices and instruments join in, the richer the music we all make together will be.