40 Years of Jazz at Laguardia High

Friday, January 25, 2013

Alumni & Friends of LaGuardia High School is presenting “40 Years of Jazz at Laguardia High,” a concert on January 28, honoring Justin DiCioccio, a drummer and educator who created the first fully accredited secondary school jazz education program in the United States, and now head of jazz programming at Manhattan School of Music. The concert brings together more than 30 musicians, most of them graduates of M&A or LaGuardia, including drummer Jimmy Owens.


Justin DiCioccio and Jimmy Owens

Comments [6]

While I wasn't able to attend the event,I graduated from Music & Art in 1974 and Justin DiCioccio had an impact on my life that I still relate to people today. I remember meeting him for the first time and relating to him the fact that I wanted to be the Drummer for singer James Brown. He smiled and just nodded his head. He gave me some basic rudiments to practice and as I left , I remember thinking "This stuff will never make my playing any better, he just doesn't understand" I practiced those rudiments day after day for hours just to prove him wrong. I don't believe I have to say how the story ended, but what I will say is that I grew to love that man, still do to this day. He truly showed me how powerful an influence a great educator can have on a student, when he's ready to learn.I never did get to play for James Brown, but today Jazz music has permeated my soul it's because of him.

Jan. 30 2014 02:39 PM
Louvetta from Los Angeles

I'm delighted Mr. DiCioccio is being honored. I'm a 1981 graduate of Music & Art and I attended his class as a vocalist. I enjoyed that class so much! I learned to think more as a musician which greatly enchanced my vocal freedom and understanding of music. Kudos Mr. D. Job well done & much appreciated.

Jan. 28 2013 08:16 PM
Sara Jane from NYC

I work at a well-reagrded, popular middle school in Manhattan, and I help to run our music program. The program was started by a passionate parent who saw the need for music in our schools (with the support of the principal and Parent Association.) When she was growing up, as is true for many of us, music was a part of the school curriculum; sadly, it it now not typically part of the curriculum as schools need to make budgetary decisions and are often under pressure to produce "good" test scores. Music, Art and Theatre are often the ones to go...

Our program survives because the Parent Association raises money to pay for professional jazz musicians to teach our students after school. (Families pay for the classes but we raise money for scholarships, too, so nobody who wants to play is left out.) We have a Jazz Band and a Jazz Combo, as well as sectionals for various instruments. The guitar students focus more on Rock, but as they progress they join the Jazz Band. Many of them study outside of school as well, expanding their classical and jazz repertoire, and some have auditioned and been accepted into the City Orchestra. We are hanging on for dear life, but the upside is:
- A number of parents have applied to the school because of the program
- Many of our students began their life as a musician here. A few have gone on to LaGuardia HS as well as Frank Sinatra HS, as well as studying with the Manhattan School for Music's summer program. A few of them have decided that music is their path in life.
Imagine if music was part of every school's curriculum...
Thankfully, high schools like LaGuardia exist; I wish there were even more opportunities!!

Jan. 25 2013 01:16 PM
Naomi from Scarsdale

AT M&A in the '40s (in the Castle on the Hill) there was an extracurricular jazz band that played at after-school dances. Its theme song was "You Take the A Train" -- because that's what you did to get there.
When Performing Arts was founded, much later, it was not an "academic" high school, like M&A. I think it was called a "trade school."

Jan. 25 2013 12:59 PM

AT M&A in the 1940s, we had an extracurricular jazz band. It played at after-school dances in the gym. The theme song was You Take the A Train -- because that's what you did to get there!

Jan. 25 2013 12:54 PM
Cynthia from East Harlem

This is so cool. I graduated in 1980 (from the Castle)and always loved our Jazz Band. I was in the Art program but boy did it make going to school a joy. My musician friends and I admired Mr DeCioccio so much. Thanks for all the years of pleasure and of introducing me to ALL THAT JAZZ!!

Jan. 25 2013 12:47 PM

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