JPEC Outreach

Sandy Thomas at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto
Sandy Thomas, JPEC Director and Chair
Outreach Program

A Message from Sandy Thomas...

"JPEC arranges and funds interactive workshops which are available for students at any grade level or combination of grade levels from elementary to high school.

These workshops examine the various components of jazz, the roles of various instruments, the importance of improvisation, composition and more. Since 2013, JPEC has provided musicians to more than 100 schools."

For further information contact: Chair Outreach

General Crerar Public School - Student Thank-You Notes

Thank You 1
Thank You 2

Lamberton Public School in Toronto to one of JPEC's Outreach Directors

The students, who participated in today's workshop, were very happy that you and Chris came to Lamberton!

And yes, the level of engagement and energy were definitely there! My fellow colleagues, who got to be a part of it, really enjoyed it! The musical experience was definitely memorable!

Thank you so much!

Tim Shia and Friends Show Off JPEC Jazz

JPEC allowing me to share my love of jazz and its rich history with the younger generation is what makes it such a great organization. Most young folk these days aren't quite sure what to make of the term Jazz and in most cases have never seen a live jazz performance. We try to show what a dynamic music jazz is and how it's connected with music they hear on the radio and how it isn't just a "slow music for old people". We also try to show how much skill and effort is actually involved in improvising but also open the door for the kids to try it themselves. I especially like it when kids think Jazz started in New Brunswick...

Snow Doesn't Stop The Music

A Personal Message from Rochelle Koskie

Gil Dodick, who does programming for Reena Foundation reached out to me a few months ago, as Director of our Outreach program. He wanted to know if they qualified for a concert as part of JPEC's outreach program. The audience was a group of adults who have developmental disabilities, some quite severe, at Reena Foundation ( Reena serves adults of all nationalities, within the framework as described on their website.

Aaron Lightstone, who is a music therapist, ( and Aviva Chernick, vocalist, presented that concert, paid for by JPEC. How fortunate we are to have someone with their backgrounds work with us.

As the hour unfolded, it was heartwarming and truly amazing to watch the audience and how they responded to the songs of many cultures, by clapping, dancing or simply smiling, or rocking in their chairs. At one point, one individual took Aviva's hand, and with smiles on both their faces, would not let go. Another woman led the group, clapping to the rhythm of the song. Another two got up and danced; Another sang -- in disjointed words but thrilled to participate.

We at JPEC know the value of music and how it affects the brain, by the studies we have published on our website. (Jazz Education). But seeing it in action is quite another thing.

Thanks to the Reena Foundation for letting us have this special moment.

Canadian Teacher Magazine Article

Canadian Teachers Magazine at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto
JPEC is highlighted in an article in Canadian Teacher Magazine on music as brain food for kids. Article was written by Wade Potts, a teacher for 35 years.

JPEC Overview Outreach Programs

Accessing Outreach Programs in Schools

School Outreach - Mar, 2011 to Feb, 2019

School Outreach - 2011 to 2019

Outreach Reports - 2019

Lamberton Public School - Feb 13, 2019
Teacher Evaluation Comments:
* Fantastic, engaging, age appropriate, fun, education.
* Students were very curious, interested and attentive to the beats.

Outreach Reports - 2018

Macklin Public School

Outreach Reports - 2017

Adeshola Agbaje-Ojo - Rose Ave Jr PS
Mary Inneo - Brandon Gate PS
Michael Demeter - General Crerar PS

Outreach Report

2015 Spring Outreach Report

Africentric Alternative School


Gym workshop


Africentric Alternative at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto
Outreach is one of the beneficial ways JPEC uses Sponsors funds

Grade Levels k-8

2 groups of 50 students

The program presented very engaging and invigorating for our students. Joaquin and his partner Dyalis ensured that the expectations were clear and provided the required modification to meet all the needs of the varied learners. He was very warm, respectful and intentional with the session. Our students were in awe from beginning to the end with the pieces that were chosen. All participants were eager and learnt may new techniques with the various drums and the beats and the ensemble that they were able to create.

We would love to have Joaquin again.

Thank you so very much,

Joan Lattie Africentric Alternative School - TDSB

Joaquin came to the Africentric Alternative school to present to two groups of students in our gym. The first group consisted of the Grade 1, 2, and 3 classes (about 45 students). The second group of the Grade 4/5, 5/6, and 7/8 classes (about 60 students). Mr. Nunez was very welcoming. He also brought his assistant (I cannot recall her name), several instruments, as well as volunteers/staff from JPEC. Just when I thought there were not going to be enough instruments for the students, Joaquin and his assistant pulled out more for them to use. He easily integrated the djembes that we already possess at our school within the presentation. Each student had a bucket drum, djembe, bongo, congas, agogo, or shekere. From the "get go" Joaquin engaged the students with his energy and skills as displayed in his solo intro. He briefly shared his story about how he became a professional drummer who toured around the world. This was especially appreciated since I had let him know that there are very talented young drummers at Africentric. I felt that these words and the special opportunity to let them shine alongside his professional skill (he invited different students to solo, as well as did a rhythm trade off with one of our young drummers) will be something that these students can take away and remember. Joaquin also knew how to find the students who had challenges and to adjust the program to build their confidence and mastery of the rhythms. I felt that the primary students really shined as they learned to sing an Afro-Cuban melody and accompany themselves on the drums. Also, I noticed that even the children who have some behavioural challenges were fully engaged with the programming and calmed down. With the room full of instruments formed in concentric circles, I felt that it added to the philosophy of community at the Africentric school which I hope will be repeated through future JPEC visits. In all, I felt that the students appreciated this opportunity to gather in such a large group and play. A number of them were looking forward to the presentation. Students said that they like how everyone "got along" and got to participate but wished for more time with the instruments and opportunities to try different instruments. Thank you again.

Nadia Hohn

Park Lane Public School


Park Lane PS at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto


Joseph Brant Public School


Classroom workshop before auditorium performance
Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo



Joseph Brant PS at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto Joseph Brant PS at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto Joseph Brant PS at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto


Topcliff Public School

Barbara Main

Dear Fern,
Thank you so much for coming to Topcliff P.S. to work with our students.

The students truly enjoyed the workshops. Your active, "hands-on" approach kept them engaged. I was amazed at what you were able to accomplish in a short time. Many students have not been exposed to a great deal of music, particularly jazz music. It was a wonderful experience for all.

Watching you work with the students has also enriched my teaching toolbox. Thank you once again for the important work that you are doing in promoting music education.

Barbara Main
Topcliff P.S.


Kipling Collegiate

Avital Stopnicki, OCT
Secondary Teacher
Music, Science and Math

Dear JPEC,
I would like to sincerely thank you and your organization for giving our students at Kipling Collegiate the opportunity to experience the unique drumming workshop led by Mr. Joaquin Nunez.

It was remarkable to see what Mr. Nunez was able to accomplish in just two sessions. Many of the students with whom he worked have had very little exposure to music, especially jazz rhythms; he helped students learn percussive parts of an ensemble piece, which they later performed for our school during the holiday concert. Mr. Nunez gave these students, who otherwise were not supposed to play in the holiday concert, the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. The excitement and pride they felt was palpable.

Not only has your organization given students a unique opportunity to learn percussion instruments, it has given an instructor an additional, and highly effective, tool in an area in which she is not an expert. In this way, you have brought a unique breadth of teaching to our class.

Thank you again.
Avital Stopnicki, OCT


Musical Training

Interesting article from the Society for Neuroscience:
Musical Training Shapes Brain Anatomy and Affects Function (pdf)


JPEC and Drum Cafe at Rockford School

On Tuesday afternoon, November 12, 2013, Toronto's Rockford School will be rocking to the sound of over 700 young children beating on drums. And it will all be aimed at education, according to everyone involved. That includes Chris O'Neil, whose Drum Caf? uses interactive drumming to create cooperation and stimulate learning in children. "Everyone gets a drum," says O'Neil. "Our K.I.D.S program emphasizes that we are all connected, yet recognizes our unique and individual voices within the community. It's thrilling to see these young children completely focussed, cooperating with each other while they create a community rhythm. What the children learn is the power of listening."

The Jazz Performance and Educational Centre (JPEC) is sponsoring the event. In the past two years, this not-for-profit, charitable status group has brought exceptional Canadian musicians into Toronto schools. JPEC has also presented performances by outstanding jazz musicians and students throughout Toronto for many years. Mentoring the next generation of talented young Canadian musicians is a major goal of JPEC, according to founding members Ray and Rochelle Koskie. They point to studies that link music study to academic achievement and even to success later in life. "Playing music demands dedication, discipline and teamwork," says Rochelle Koskie. "And it also helps children to solve problems in creative and imaginative ways."

The staff at Rockford School are in full agreement with those ideas. "Music is big in our school," says teacher Evra Trought Pitters. "When you're a teacher, you soon realize that all children have learning styles that are unique to them. They have different ways of learning new concepts and interacting with other children. Music contributes to that learning process." On Wednesday afternoon, the children at Rockford will be divided into two groups of 350 students, each group drumming along with Drum Caf? for almost an hour each session.

"Along with all the important educational elements of our K.I.D.S program," says Drum Caf?'s Chris O'Neil, "it also incorporates one of the most essential ingredients in all successful experiences for children. It's fun!"


School Outreach

Exposing children to music at an early age has been proven to be a most effective stimulus in advancing brain function. Yet, in tough economic times, school music and art budgets are the first to be cut.

JPEC's conscientiously presents performances by local musicians in school outreach programs for the younger students.

Some of the schools that opened their doors to JPEC's outreach:

Calderstone PS Ossington Old Orchard PS
William Burgess PSWinona Drive PS
Sunny View PSWaterfront PS

We're glad to report that there's always positive feedback from the schools, as witnessed below.

"(The students) became artists and improved their understanding of music under the instruction of knowledgeable professionals." Julie Suh, Principal Sunny View PS

"A wonderful opportunity for staff and students." "The interactive, kinesthetic performance allowed all my students to take away information about the instruments and the culture (as was I)." Jodi Barrett, Teacher

William Burgess PS

"Students loved the hands on opportunity to interact with the instruments and I was shocked by the music they were able to create collectively." Jodi Barrett, Teacher William Burgess PS

"The children were immediately entranced ? Leah Salmoaa sang several songs and introduced the students to the folklore of different cultures. ... Magic set the mood for her workshop. The students had opportunities to dance and move to the music?" Karen Barnes, Principal Waterfront School


JPEC Outreach Workshop with Chris O'Neil - Drum Cafe - July 25, 2012

Sunny View Junior and Senior Public School - TDSB

Chris O'Neil, Master Drummer, entered the gymnasium and set out enough drums for all participants.

He began to drum as each camper from Sunny View 's summer program entered the room. Many off the children had multiple disabilities and were in various wheelchairs, walkers, or lying on a pad.

A semi circle was formed and each child entered with a counsellor ,caregiver or nurse. The impact of the drumbeat was contagious and heads bobbed, feet moved, hands clapped, as they settled in for the first of two sessions.

Each child was given a drum or shaker depending on their motor skills. Chris then began each session by creating a rhythm. There was instant feedback from the children, who were quite engaged in whatever way they could. The staff also participated and all thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

The patterns became more complicated. One young man in particular became very impassioned by the beat and began enthusiastically encouraging others to respond. During the second session, the young student in the photo stayed, and took the lead assisting Chris in drumming very successfully and encouraged and inspired the others to participate.

It was apparent that Chris was an excellent choice for this workshop. He really understood how to reach out to these children.

To quote Chris... "If you can breathe and your eyes blink and your heart beats, then you have rhythm"


Sunny View Public School Jr. & Sr.

450 Blythwood Road Toronto, Ontario M4N 1A9 *Tel: (416) 393-0275 * Fax: (416) 33-9285
Julie Suh, Principal Paul Kay, Vice-Principal

July 26, 2012

To whom it may Concern:

I just wanted to thank you for the great opportunity you have given us. Chris O'Neil performed two separate performances on July 25th at our camp for 55 of our students who have physical disabilities and medical challenges. He was engaging, interactive and found a way to reach all of the participants, students and staff alike. Whether the students could play the drum, use a shaker, listen to the music or just feel the vibrations of the drum, all students were included in the performance.

The length of the performance was appropriate and the enthusiasm of Chris was apparent. He recognized the musical talents of one of our students and highlighted them in the performance while still including all of the others. The smile and joy that was evident amongst all of the participants and the happy atmosphere was felt by all.

Thank you again for the wonderful opportunity and a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Marilee Cuthbert
(Lead Instructor ? SunnyView)



Master Ghanaian Percussionist
At William Burgess Public School in Toronto

Kwasi Dunyo presented two infectious drumming workshops for the grade one and two students at Will Burgess Public School. His humor, couched with authority, guided the children and teachers through a musical and geographical landscape during his well-planned event.

Kwasi first lined up the four types of percussion instruments (drum, cowbell, shaker & bell) in a large square around the perimeter of the performance area, each type of instrument per side.

After the students entered, he aligned them in equal rows according to the number of instruments available. Kwasi then introduced himself and cleverly got the students to determine his native country - Ghana, in Africa. Next, he engaged the students in call-and-response songs and identifying the Ghanaian names of the instruments.

During the music performance segment the students rotated four times so they all got to perform with each row of the four instruments.

The principal and teachers were delighted with this energetic and interactive activity. The children's response was a joy to watch.

This was an enriching experience. The knowledge assimilated was far from superficial and validated our confidence in this effective JPEC Outreach program for younger students.

JPEC School Outreach Feedback

Teacher: Sarah Almeida, Grades 1-2
William Burgess Public School

Session date: June 12, 2012

Performer: Kwasi Dunyo – Ghanaian Master Percussionist

The performannce with Kwasi was spectacular. My grade 1/2 class of 18 students really enjoyed the show. The students were introduced to each musical instrument, given a chance to rehearse and learn the name of it, as well as be aable to play it in sync together, in harmony with the whole class.

All the students had a chance to perform, they were all engaged and were excited. The students listened and responded to Kwasi while he took note of their interest level.

My class teamed up with another grade 1/2 class and Kwasi was more than effective in managing the two groups. He was organized in his teaching strategies and the students felt his enthusiasm.

He really demonstrated his passion for music and his love for his cultural background (Ghana) was used as an educational tool.

Sarah Almeida

Canada Help

Charitable No. 842921298 RR0001

Ontario Government Cuts Music Education Funding For At - Risk Kids

By Anya Wassenberg on August 25, 2018 (The Scoop)

Sistema Kids at Jazz Performance and Education Centre in Toronto
The Ontario provincial government has announced a decision to pull a promised $500,000 in music funding aimed at Toronto at-risk youth run by Sistema Toronto. (Photo courtesy Sistema Toronto).

The Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport have reneged on a promise of $500,000 in funding for an after-school music program for at-risk children. The half million dollars in additional funding was promised to Sistema Toronto by the previous Liberal government in May, before the provincial election. The announcement reversing the funding was made late last week.

Hilary Johnson, Sistema Toronto's Managing Director, decried the move in a media interview. She emphasized Sistema's value in a statement to a reporter for the Toronto Star, "After-school programming is huge in helping kids stay out of trouble," she said. According to Johnson, most of the children in the program come from new immigrant families, and many are in foster care.

The $500,000 grant was part of a $21 million investment over three years announced by the former Ontario government. The money was slated specifically to promote access and exposure to arts education for Ontario students, including visual arts, dance, and drama, as well as music. Part of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport's stated overall mandate is "championing participation in sport and recreation activities across Ontario."

Sistema Toronto certainly fits the bill under that broad umbrella. The nonprofit organization provides after-school music instruction to 275 kids between the ages of 6 and 12 in the Parkdale, Jane-Finch, and East Scarborough regions neighbourhoods with high child poverty rates. At no cost, children receive instruction from professional musicians, along with the instruments to learn and play, and a nutritious snack to hold them off till dinner.

All three centres have long waiting lists, and the extra funding would have allowed Sistema to add more at-risk children to the program. Sistema Toronto says they will have to cap waiting lists, cut teachers and staff, and cancel plans to buy new instruments.

The benefits of music education at an early age are well documented. They include improved motor and math skills, memory, not to say confidence and a sense of community. In at-risk neighbourhoods, they give kids an alternative to the often unfriendly streets, and a sense of direction and community to combat the lure of gangs. According to the organization's statement, the students who participate in Sistema's programming are 25 percent more likely to get higher scores on standardized tests.

Sistema, or El Sistema, more properly, is a global organization that operates in 55 countries worldwide. Founded by Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu in Venezuela in 1975, the organization firmly believes in the social and public health benefits of music education, and the power of music to create social change. The program's success in enriching and developing the lives of children and their families spread across Venezuela and spawned the global network of organizations that now use the Sistema approach. Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is perhaps Sistema's most famous alumnus. Dudamel is also the conductor of the Orquesta Sinfonica Simon Bolovar (Simon Bolovar Symphony Orchestra,) the ensemble made up of young players who are learning through Sistema.

Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, who made the original funding announcement back on May 8, 2018, joined with Parkdale-High Park MPP Bhutila Karpoche in issuing a statement calling for a reversal of the funding cut. "The Sistema program addresses the lack of quality educational programming available to these underserved communities and cancelling planned funding puts these children at risk of not reaching their full potential. I urge the Minister to reconsider this decision."

Karpoche joined in condemning the move and pointed the finger directly at the Ontario government. "Instead of providing support to communities that are struggling with some of the highest child poverty rates in Toronto, Doug Ford's government has decided to pull the rug out from under at-risk children," Karpoche's statement read.

A spokesperson for MPP Sylvia Jones, the minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, issued a statement to the press late last week blaming the previous Liberal government.

"The day the election was called, the previous minister committed funding to this organization without going through the proper approval process. Unfortunately, Sistema does not meet the criteria for this grant and is not eligible for funding. It is unfortunate that the Liberals put Sistema in this position."

Johnson, however, told reporters that the funding came as a result of lengthy consultations. She says that the Ministry's statement is in "direct conflict" with the assurances the organization received both in writing and in one on one meetings.

The loss is significant, making up just over half of the organization's $900,000 annual budget. Sistema Toronto has launched a crowdfunding campaign through to help fill the breach. Several thousand dollars were donated on the first day.