Brief History of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts
Passionate about their vision of creating a unique jazz program for teens, Paul and Chris Romaine founded CCJA in late 1999 as a partnership. Six students registered for the first small group session, where they met weekly during the school year and played and performed in a small jazz group under the guidance of a professional jazz musician mentor. The program continued to grow, and in March of 2003, CCJA became a Colorado Non-profit corporation, and in early 2004 was granted 501 (c)(3) status. The original “Small Group Program” soon expanded to meet in three locations in the Denver Metro area; there are currently an average of 9 youth bands each session and and there is now an average of 9 youth bands each session and nearly 1000 teens have participated in these groups over the past 17 years.
Along the way, new programming has included two summer camps, a Summer Institute, a new youth JazzFest, outreach programs to Denver and Boulder-area public schools, expanded public performances, guided public youth jam sessions, a peer mentoring program, a Recording and Music Industry Program, and an early childhood music education program.
Over the last seventeen years, CCJA groups have performed for tens of thousands of people, with the intention of advancing and preserving America’s treasured art form of jazz through helping to enlighten the public about the scope, history, and future possibilities of jazz. All of our programs are directed by accomplished professional jazz musicians who continue to pass on their extensive knowledge, experience, and wisdom to the next generation. Whether students go on to play professionally or for enjoyment, their lives are enriched by their participation in CCJA’s programs and they develop a greater understanding and appreciation of the art form, carrying this appreciation on into their adult lives.
CCJA faculty, alumni (now in college or beyond), and advanced current students visit schools to either perform for all or part of the student body or to work with music programs. CCJA plays for and with music students in their bands, acting as near-peer mentors. Specific topics are presented in a clinic format, and our faculty are happy to serve as Improvisation Coaches. If enough students in one school or area are interested, CCJA can also run after-school small groups on site. We are there to support school music programs in whatever capacity we are needed.
The SLAM program, a branch of our educational outreach, is an intensive after-school mentoring project designed to provide personal support and inspiration to disadvantaged students who have an interest in music. In this program, music is a medium through which teens develop self-awareness, discipline, positive relationships, confidence, and life skills crucial to success in the 21st century. Students meet twice a week with both professional musician and near-peer (ages 19-24) mentors to work one-on-one and in small groups, both as an ensemble, and by instrument in order to focus on fundamentals.