BERKELEY HEIGHTS—Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts’ Performing Arts School (PAS) faculty member Joel Perry is the recipient of the 2016 New Jersey Jazz Education Achievement Award from the New Jersey Association of Jazz Educators (NJAJE). The award will be presented during the annual State Jazz Conference and All State Jazz Fest concert featuring some of the best young jazz musicians and vocalists from around the state on Friday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center located at 1 Center Street in Newark. Tickets are $30 and available at

On an annual basis, the NJAJE Board of Directors is proud to nominate a New Jersey jazz educator who has demonstrated the highest standards of teaching excellence and dedication to the jazz education community. Guitarist Joel Perry is one of the premier guitarists and musicians of our time with an extensive educational background to compliment his performing and recording credentials. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Magna Cum Laude) and Master Degree in Education from The University of Buffalo, Master Degree in Guitar Performance from Jersey City State University, and a Summer Fellowship at Northwestern University. He is also 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 has performed and recorded with is a who’s who of the music world. Perry has 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 has recorded with are Johnny Copeland and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and he has three CD releases: “Rainbow Skylight”, “Perry Airs,” and “Sonata to the Blues”.

Says Perry, “I am very proud of my work in jazz education. I consider it part of the same profession to perform music and teach music. I am currently teaching vocal music K-5 in West Orange, and I insist on including Blues, jazz and improvisation in my curriculum for every grade.  I am currently teaching Blues, jazz, and classical guitar at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts in Berkeley Heights where I have implemented various jazz and Blues workshops. I also teach music theory and include jazz in my music theory curriculum. I am very proud to have just finished a book of scales for guitar, The Building Blocks of Music for Guitar.  I host a radio show called “The Jersey Bounce” live on Sunday mornings from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on and streaming on WFDU2.STREAMREWIND.COM.”

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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 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.