The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) announces the availability of the Joel Perry Scholarship at its Performing Arts School for the 2018-2019 academic year. For students between the ages of 8 and 16 who are eager to learn more about music but may not be able to afford private lessons, the scholarship is made possible in partnership with the Perry family and will be awarded to one vocalist or instrumentalist in the amount of 34 thirty-minute lessons. Applications will be accepted through September 15, 2018. To learn more about the scholarship or to apply, visit www.WhartonArts.org/pas or call 908-790-0700.

Late guitarist Joel Perry was the recipient of the 2016 New Jersey Jazz Education Achievement Award from the New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators (NJAJE) and one of the premier guitarists and musicians of our time with an extensive educational background to compliment his performing and recording credentials. He was a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the New Jersey Association for Jazz Education, Music Educators National Conference, and American Choral Directors Association. The list of artists he performed and recorded with is a who’s who of the music world. Perry performed in over fifteen countries and in venues including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Garden State Arts Center, The Rainbow Room, Windows on the World, U.S. Department of State tour of West Africa with blues artist Johnny Copeland, and jazz clubs including Trumpets, The Blue Note, Sounds of Brazil, The 55 Bar, Tramps, and The Famished Frog. Perry has performed with Papa John Creach, Ruth Brown, Big Joe Turner, Lavern Baker, Joni Mitchel, Herb Ellis, Rosemary Clooney, Leslie Gore, Margaret Whiting, Eddie Fischer, James Cotton, Percy France, Leon Thomas, Jimmy Dawkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Frank Foster, Frank Wess, Ken Peplowski and Al Hibbler. Amongst some of the artists he recorded with are Johnny Copeland and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He published a book of scales for guitar, The Building Blocks of Music for Guitar, and hosted the radio show The Jersey Bounce live on Sunday mornings on wfdu.fm.

Says Director of Education and close personal friend Andrew Nitkin, “Joel Perry was an amazing presence here at Wharton’s Performing Arts School. An exceptionally talented guitarist playing classical, jazz, and his beloved blues; a great music theory teacher; a composer; and a tireless advocate for early childhood education. In addition to his many years here at Wharton, Joel taught music at Redwood Elementary School in West Orange. He performed frequently and brought pleasure to many, many people.”

Sign Up for E-News


The Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ mission is to provide the highest quality performing arts education to a wide range of students in a supportive and inclusive environment, where striving for personal excellence inspires and connects those we teach to the communities we serve.

Wharton is New Jersey’s largest independent non-profit community performing arts education center serving over 1,400 students through a range of classes and ensembles including the 14 ensembles of the New Jersey Youth Symphony, which serve 500 students in grades 3 - 12. Beginning with Early Childhood music classes for infants and toddlers, WIPA offers private lessons, group classes and ensembles for all ages and all abilities. We believe in the positive and unifying influence of music and the performing arts and believe that arts education should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay. We teach all instruments and voice and have a robust musical theatre program.

Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts is located in Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Paterson, NJ and reaches students from 13 counties. All of WIPA’s extraordinary faculty members and conductors hold degrees in their teaching specialty and have been vetted and trained to enable our students to achieve their personal best.