SUMMIT, NJ - Thanks to a grant from the Summit Educational Foundation (SEF), professional jazz musician Joe Elefante was able to work with the Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School (LCJSMS) Stage Band students to enhance their jazz comprehension through two in-school master class workshops.

LCJSMS teacher Mr. Alex Bocchino is author of this grant and conductor of the Stage Band. He adds, "Due to the generosity of the Summit community through SEF, we were able to bring in Joe Elefante who has written and recorded jazz, directs his own working big band, and has toured nationally.  Joe worked with the students on two occasions and shared his expertise. His insightful comments helped the Stage Band perform at a higher level which contributed to a successful performance and superior rating at the Musical Carousel/ Dorney Park Music Festival."

Elefante enjoyed the experience saying, "What a pleasure it was working with the LCJSMS Jazz Band,” said Joe. He added, “The students were responsive, well-prepared, and enthusiastic. Mr. Bocchino had chosen a great program of music, and they already sounded great when I walked in.  Even so, they took my coaching seriously, and I felt the band improved each time I rehearsed with them."

Scott Greenblatt, an eighth grader and alto sax player in the Stage Band, was enthusiastic about the workshops saying, “Having Joe Elefante come to LCJSMS was not only a great learning opportunity, but also a really enjoyable time in general. Students were taught the significance of improvisation and given the opportunity to take multiple solos throughout the course of his visits.  Overall, he helped improve our soloing skills, self confidence, and the sound of the band as a whole. I would highly recommend having Joe come back and work with the Stage Band again.”  Information regarding SEF can be found at www.sefnj.org.