The TOaG Jazz Clinics at Oakland High School

We are so excited to be back again supporting the rise of Mr. Byrd's jazz department - which has now attracted the attention of arts organizations like SF Jazz, as well the Oakland Public Conservatory.  The student band is bigger than ever, hungry for more, and set to shine despite all of the challenges facing our students and teachers in these difficult times.  In response to the shelter in place, and in order to facilitate our students ’ ability to participate in this creative era, we are excited to announce our 2020-2021 Digital Collaboration and Remote Studio Recording Initiative. We need our youth to be creatively engaged more than ever, and we refuse to let a pandemic stop them from sharing their musical voices with the world! Big thanks to all of our supporters and sponsors, you make this program a reality :)

TOaG Jazz Clinic Final Project
Airship Laboratories, Richmond, CA

Our Mission

"To curate jazz clinics at Oakland High School in partnership with music department head David Byrd, bringing working jazz musicians from the community into the classroom to perform for, engage with, and instruct students in a side-by-side environment.  Clinics are structured to provide a positive environment with hands on training in musicianship, theory, improvisation, professionalism, technique, and active listening; while also demonstrating the rewards of creative problem solving, self-organization, self-discipline, and respectful practices.  The program culminates in the opportunity for the students to record a selection of curriculum repertoire at a professional recording studio, allowing them to expand their portfolio for future educational and professional endeavors, as well as experience a moment of life as a working musician. Finally, this program seeks to establish a sustainable model to pay working artists a living wage for providing their services in the communities who need it most."

Student improvisors playing alongside the TOaG Quartet

Student improvisors playing alongside the TOaG Quartet

The need

The historically underfunded Oakland High School is a Title 1 institution that has been serving the Oakland community for 150 years, yet only received a comprehensive instrumental music program 6 years ago.  Battling state receivership, district wide deficits, and a lack of internal funding, Mr. David Byrd has single handedly built up the program over that period to include a competitive orchestra program that has won several awards in and around the Bay Area. However, his jazz program has not had long term access to mentorship programs or support, and would benefit greatly from the individualized attention that can be provided by professional jazz musicians, working side by side students on a consistent basis. Further, the well documented history of arts education not being supported in schools that represent our communities of color demands that we go above and beyond existing school programming, to provide the quality of service that the next generation of musicians deserve.

Mr. David Byrd and Mr. Kelly speaking with trumpet students

Mr. David Byrd and Mr. Kelly speaking with trumpet students

What students think

It was such a nice change, seeing different musicians who know what they are doing.”

— OHS Jazz Band Student

Mr. Byrd


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