Fundraiser Helps Program for Young Musicians

Young talent in Whitby, ON entertained the community on May 27 at the LIVEAct Dinner Theatre with the Durham Jazz Band’s (DJB) annual Dinner in the Key of Jazz concert. The show featured performances by two groups of Durham District School Board student musicians, a 50/50 draw and silent auction, dinner and performances by professional guest musicians. Money raised that evening will go toward their annual band trip and also help fund a new scholarship program, which assists with registration and trip fees for bandmates who cannot afford them.

DJB began in 2009 and was founded by Nicole Henning, Elementary Music Teacher at Romeo Dallaire Public School, and Andrew Cohen, who both operate as Co-Director of the band. DJB is comprised of two, 17 piece auditioned bands: DJ3 which targets students in Grades 6, 7 or 8 and the newly added DJ2 for students in Grades 9 and 10. The founders “wanted to provide an opportunity for students to learn jazz in an ensemble of students like themselves,” and say that their “goal is to motivate and inspire this next generation of musicians, teachers and wonderful human beings. We strive for perfection with each piece we work on.”




Current musicians attend over a dozen schools within the district. The groups practice for two hours every Thursday, and the Co-Directors say that “both groups are full of highly dedicated students who enjoy the experience of creating music and working together to achieve excellence. These students create more than a band. We are a family.” In 2011 Henning told that neither of them are surprised at the member’s extreme commitment to the music. “We give them a piece of music and they come back the next day and know it. They all want to be in the band for a variety of reasons. It challenges them.”

DJB has performed in many festivals, including the Southern Ontario Jazz Band Festival, MusicFest Canada, The Rocky Mountain Music Festival, the Next Generation Jazz Festival at Humber College and the Atlantic Festival of Music. The band has also performed at the Rotary Club of Whitby, Sunrise’s Savour the Flavour Event, Motorcity Jazz Night and many community events and concerts.

Henning says they used word of mouth, a print ad and their website to promote the evening, and notes that her previous experience in the hospitality field helped them plan a standout event.

What experience in other fields has helped you plan a well-run event?