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Dear Mr. Yarborough,

Yesterday, Tuesday, July 19th, 2005, was the first time that I had the opportunity to attend one of your summer concerts. In previous years, I would occasionally hear portions of rehearsals or portions of the concert because I was doing other things at church or with another organization. The purpose of this letter is to give a thunderous round of applause to you, the instructors, and participants and to express my sincere appreciation for the outstanding performance by all concerned.

When I looked at the printed program, I saw that you had a variety of approaches to your planned program. Little did I know that I would see unfold before my eyes a beautiful mosaic that would take my breath away. The soloists, due, quartet, quintet, and ensembles showed how truly successful the program has been in teaching your young musicians to be all that they can be. It was so good that I hope that you will consider making a CD of the concert or having a special session for a CD.

It was a pure delight to hear that arrangement of Amazing Grace, my favorite hymn, for the trombone ensemble. It just proves that the creativity that lies within us is infinite and that your organization has the capacity to serve us a delicious plate of music to satisfy the tastes of the ordinary person or the exquisite demands of the musical connoisseur.

I also saw in your students the look of friendliness, joy and contentment. I did not detect anything that gave me the impression that someone did not want to be there.

As the concert moved along - and just when I thought that things could not get any better, you pulled out another gem. When the faculty did its thing with "Cherokee", I watched the reactions of your students as they looked on with admiration and awe while the group performed. I learned something new about Davey Yarborough. I knew that you played reed instruments, the piano, and probably had a working knowledge of the other instruments in the band. I was surprised, delighted, and flabbergasted at your performances on the percussion instruments. I know that if I had closed my eyes, I could have imagined that I was listening to someone like Gene Krupa in his prime.

You and yours have set an extremely high standard for all who follow and I wish you the best of everything. Surely, the hand of God is present in what you are doing. I hope that all of you know that God is on our side, but each one must decide if we will let him play with us or kick him off our team because we do not like the way he jams.

Finally I wish that someone from the media had been there so that your program could get some of the recognition that is so well deserved. This community and others in the nation and the world needs to know about these good works.


Nat Moore, an admirer and member of Peoples Congregational Church Pop,

You were on my mind and I just found this page today:

This page is wonderful and well deserving. I still feel that your exposure is underrated when it comes to your effect on students.

That had to be the best three years of my life. College couldn't compare to the experience we all received working with you in that environment which you had established and still maintained. We didn't even want to go to class some days. We just wanted to keep playing nonstop! You had to kick us out and unplug the PA system (laugh).

Pop, keep up the good work. Man of your jazz pupils leave Duke coming out playing just as good as people twice their age. That's a huge accomplishment and great reflection upon yourself.

I always credit you for the direction and level my playing has taken. I definitely didn't come into your class playing as well as I did by senior year. People always compliment and say "wow…you have great talent" etc…but I think it was great exposure and training we received from you. Ranging from those crazy tempos you call to the renouned artist you bring in, all of this just adds to the skills one will pick up in your classroom.

I'll call you when I'm coming to the area. Take care.


Ephraim (a pianist and former student) Emmaly Curry - 16

I believe that the Washington Jazz Arts Institute was a very productive and inspiring program. It inspired me to do more than just average, because of the program I am proud to say that I not only play the clarinet, but I also play the saxophone. The staff was a wonderful help and they provided us with an array of snacks at snack time. I am thankful for Mr. Yarborough because he provided a saxophone for me to play and Mr. Settles for being very patient with me. I am also thankful for Steven for helping me with the music we had to play, and for encouraging me to keep trying. The program allowed me to meet some other very talented musicians from all different parts of the world. Joshua Davies - 15

I think that this program was very helpful. I learned a lot this summer. This was a five-week program that could benefit a lifetime. I play the piano and this course benefited me as a piano player in a lot of ways. It benefited me in my soloing. I used to think I was a bad improviser and that my solos didn't make sense. Now I still think I am a bad soloist, but I now think my solos make sense. This program also benefited me in playing chords, I did not know as many chords before that I know now. I also benefited in listening and composing. I have been playing two years going on three years. To conclude, I have learned a lot from this program. Jonathan Davies - 14

Last year, I didn't want to be a part of this program because I really did not know how to improvise, and I felt like I was embarrassing myself, because I was a beginner. This year, I liked the program very much, mostly because I learned how to improvise a lot better. I learned some more higher and lower register notes. I learned a lot of theory, and I really got into jazz. I also learned about tone, the cycle of 4th/5ths, and I learned a few exercises. I really liked the songs that we played, especially Blue Monk. I even learned a little vibrato. Oh, and the food was good. Jesse Hernandez - 17

I felt like this program was very good for anyone that plays an instrument or even learning how to play. The teachers make sure you know your part. Although we had less theory last year, we still developed out technique and minds towards everything and not only our instruments. We learned more about chords and how to play through them. I don't think I improved towards my improvisation although I did improve my sound on my tenor sax. This learning experience was really fun and should keep going on every year that comes. Every year this program seems to improve its ways of teaching. It was really fun. Anonymous - 16

The Washington Jazz Arts Institute has given me the opportunity to study and increase my knowledge of music, which was small since I never studied music. I couldn't really read music or improvise because of the lack of musical knowledge and because I had taught myself to play in a manner that gave my playing a handicap. There were just a lot of things that I did not know that I have learned. I now have knowledge of chord changes. I know major, minor, diminished, dominant, and augmented scales. When I started playing I had no idea that you played a minor scale differently than a major scale. I'm a college student and will be attending a music school this year and what I have learned has prepared me for school in September. I know that I will now be able to keep up, with some of the knowledge of what is going on. It really is a blessing to have incredible musicians such as Mr.Wes Biles and Mr. Davey Yarborough take time out to teach young musicians how to improvise and just overall play well you know. In this program you are being prepared to take on bigger challenges in music, with the knowledge you need in order to conquer and accomplish whatever is thrown your way. Caleb Bess - 15

WJAI was a great experience for me. It was fun as well as educational. WJAI exposed me to a lot of Jazz and definitely improved my playing and taught me tons of new techniques. All my peers and teachers were supportive of me and pushed me to do things I might never have done on my own, such as solos. The teachers were great. They helped me in each of the areas in which I needed help. Plus this program helped me discover how much music can make a difference in my life. First of all, it gives me something to do with my free time that makes me happy. It helped me learn that playing trombone is a stress producer. I also played a different kind of music than I usually play at school. WJAI also helped me take my instrument more seriously. Before WJAI I would barely practice at all during the week. Overall, I think that WJAI was a great fun and education experience that I will remember for years to come. Elias Clark - 15

This program is great! I learned so much about playing the saxophone and many different things. I met a lot of new friends who really kind of don't like it when I laugh. I also met some new teachers that taught me a lot. Brian, who helped teach the saxophones, is very fun to work with. I learned about the amature (aperture???) and how to get the sound to sound better. I even learned new notes and new songs that are wonderful. Many people who go here have been playing for a long time, but I think I'm catching up with some of them already. This program is great to teach kids the fundamentals of arts and Jazz. You can learn so many things even if you are a pro or not and you can help teach kids to read (music) or learn new things that you've learned. This program has really helped me read and practice even harder for next year so I can help another young student. I hope that one day this program will take in so many students that we will need a bigger building. In conclusion, this program should go on forever. Robert Ashe - 15

I think the Washington Jazz Arts Institute was a good way of providing a way for teens to have a good thing to do instead of sitting at home and watching T.V. This program was very productive for me and I hope this program will be here for years to come. As a trumpet player, I've improved so much. I gained confidence in improvisation, learned so much about scales and became a better technical player. All this stuff I couldn't even learn at my high school. This program had affected me greatly and I will always try to be in this program. Travis Brown - 16

I think that the Washington jazz Arts Institute has changed the way I look at music. I mean, everyone here, they're serious about their music. Some kids, they look at music like it's their life here. They love music and like to play it. I've changed my perspective because of this camp. I've also learned how to play better. I learned how to play better as a trombone player. They've improved my level of playing. I know some scales I never knew, like the pinitonic (???) scales, bebop scales, and the blues scale. I've also learned how to slur notes better, and how to play my notes clearer and more fluently. Jared Jones - 17

I feel that the Washington Jazz Arts Institute has a positive effect on everyone involved with it. Whether a person is here to learn, or just enjoy good jazz, it's a great place to be. As a trombone player, I have improved in many ways, but mostly as a better overall musician. It was this program that inspired me to move from Michigan to Washington so that I could attend the Duke Ellington School of the Arts with hopes to continue what I've started. I feel more at home here, around music, than anywhere else. Dear Mr. Yarborough,

I can't thank you enough for the soprano. Your generosity and selflessness have inspired me as a musician and as a human being, and I will feel lucky if I am able to pass on half of what you have given to me. The soprano will be an indispensable tool in furthering my career as a musician, and I am going to really begin to try and refine my technique and sound on it in the coming weeks and months. I am forever in debt to you and the Institute, and I plan to pay back my debt by continuing to participate in institute activities. The institute has afforded me with countless opportunities to hone my craft in a small and large group situation. I've also been able to improve my skills in improvisation and composition under the tutelage of some of the best musicians in the D.C. area. I will never forget the many valuable experiences I've had while at the Institute. Again, thank you so much for everything.

Your student,

Alex Hoffman - 18


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