MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes in preserving music.
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On Saturdays, young musicians meet up at the Memphis Music Room off Shelby Oaks Drive. It’s all part of the Memphis Jazz Workshop, a music program that offers lessons to students of all ages.
“They’re placed in combos based on their ability level. Each combo has an instructor who works specifically with those students,” said Rachel Johnson, the program coordinator.
The founder and executive director of the Memphis Jazz Workshop is Stephen Lee. He’s been playing jazz for over 25 years and feels it has been on the back burner. “I wanted to put the music back in front of Memphis.”
He does that through teaching in hopes that sharing the music will keep it alive. The workshop teaches students “jazz improvisational courses, learning jazz theory, learning how to play basic piano, jazz piano. Any instrument. Trumpet, trombone, saxophone,” said Lee.
Memphis Jazz Workshop also believes finances should not prevent students from participating in their program. They offer scholarships and financial aid. They even have a 24-hour radio station dedicated to jazz.
For Stephen Lee, jazz means freedom. “Just play what you feel. There are no wrong notes.”
That is why the Brown Missionary Baptist Church wanted to give Memphis Jazz Workshop $1,000 because jazz should always live on through our future generations.
A true community changer.
For more details on Memphis Jazz Workshop, click here.