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Wednesday, July 5, 2017 at 9:00 AM EDT
Friday, July 7, 2017 at 5:00 PM EDT

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


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

Driving Directions 


Aasha Collins 
Jazz Power Initiative formerly Jazz Drama Program 

Summer Jazz Arts Institute 2017

Providing inspirational training in cross-modal teaching methods for classroom teachers, arts specialists and teaching artists.

Summer Jazz Arts Institute Staff and Participants 2016


$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.

When and Where?

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.


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

Summer Jazz Arts Institute Faculty

Eli Yamin is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Jazz Power Initiative, formerly The Jazz Drama Program. An acclaimed jazz and blues pianist, composer and singer, he has toured over twenty countries as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Deparment of State. Eli taught a workshop on the blues at the first ever White House Jazz Studio and received great encouragment for his work by First Lady Michelle Obama who invited him to return to perform with his jazz quintet three times at the White House. Eli is the founding director of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Middle School Jazz Academy and led the program for it's first ten years. He co-wrote a manual for teaching jazz to Middle School students and filmed one hundred videos for The Jazz Academy. Eli believes teaching jazz should feel as creative as playing it and shares this vision of learning at The Jazz Drama Program which he co-founded in 2003 to empower communities with the tools and treasures of Amerca's art form.  Eli holds a Master's Degree in Music Education from Lehman College, City University of New York.

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 insturctional 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.

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. 

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.”

Eli Yamin and Shireen Dickson

Tom Dempsey