Kids for Coltrane

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What a joy it was to meet Dr. Cornel West on April 16, 2013 at New York University. The topic was moral courage. Cornel West and Irshad Manji are cultural entrepreneurs who both spoke that evening. Dr. West is someone I admire for his moral courage and brilliant intellect, but until that evening I did not know he also was greatly inspired by the life and music of John Coltrane. The audience was illuminated by a discussion about power, democracy, innovation — and our individual role in all three. After the seminar, I spoke to Dr. West about the Kids for Coltrane Project in Education. The following week, I found myself dining with Dr. West discussing the importance of my the Kids for Coltrane Project, and related topics of illumination. Breathing rarefied air I will treasure the conversation and look forward to sharing more of my project with Dr. Cornel West in the future. “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.” ~ Dr. Cornel West


On June 22nd, members of the Kids for Coltrane Project in Education received awards for participating in the Kids for Coltrane After School Program at the Holliswood school. The program is under the direction of Ms. Christine Termini Passarella, founder and educator. Pictured here are Seth and Sarina who proudly  display their certificates. They received their awards for participating in the 2011 – 2012 program along with 24 other happy children. Seth and Sarina also received the Kids for Coltrane, Reaching for the Stars Award which is given each year to people who go above and beyond. Seth and Sarina wrote  Ms. Passarella a very persuasive letter when she was thinking about creating the  after school program.  The program welcomes children from different grades in a relaxing after school setting. They would all  like to send a special thank you to the principal of the Holliswood School, Mrs. Ambert, for seeing the value in this precious program and giving them the space to continue. Ms. Passarella and the children look forward to continuing this work when the new school year begins. Kids for Coltrane are… Kids for Creativity, Curiosity and Caring.

On February 10th the Kids for Coltrane welcomed artist and museum educator Jeff Hopkins to our guest speaker program. Jeff can also be found illuminating children at the Guggenheim and at Jazz at Lincoln Center just to name a few important venues. Jeff was educated at Harvard University and shared his fabulous talent with us. He taught the children about the art of Romare Bearden and his connection to the jazz world. The foundation of the project that he did with the Kids for Coltrane was based on improvisation…They  created a wonderful art project based on a “call and response” approach that Jeff implemented beautifully. The students had a great afternoon! We are grateful to Jeff for volunteering to work with us, and for seeing the importance of  the Kids for Coltrane Project in Education.

On February 3rd the Kids for Coltrane  welcomed musicians Wayne Henderson, Clarice Turnball, Arthur Green and Roger Anderson to my Kids for Coltrane  Afterschool Program at the Holliswood School. The musicians and the children had a wonderful afternoon sharing music and ideas.  The children listened to fabulous jazz songs.  The musicians were impressed when the kids asked to hear John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, Equinox and Alabama. The music of Trane, Miles Davis and Duke Ellington floated through the room. The children quickly joined drummer Wayne Henderson  keeping  the beat with their pencils and rulers. Singer Clarice Turnball told the children about the legend Ms. Billy Holiday. Pianist Roger Anderson shared his thoughts about one of his favorite composers Antonio Carlos Jobin and the band played The Girl from Ipanema. Saxophonist Arthur Green shared information about the blues and what inspires blues musicians to play from their hearts and souls. It was truly an illuminating and uplifting day filled with joyful music and brilliant smiles. I would like to thank the Jazz Foundation of America for sending this group of terrific musicians to us.


On January 27,  jazz Musicians visited with the Kids for Coltrane. They were  sent to us by the Jazz Foundation of America.  Special thank you to the angel Wendy Oxenhorn who leads JFA for seeing the importance of our work.  Their visit was part of our on going guest speaker series. The Jazz Foundation of America will be sending a different band each month to work with the Kids for Coltrane Afterschool Program at the Holliswood School.  We are so grateful to JFA for bringing us such exquisite enrichment.

In this picture: drummer George A. Gray, bass player Paul Ramsey, Kids for Coltrane educator Christine Termini Passarella and pianist/composer Onaje Allan Gumbs

The Kids for Coltrane Afterschool Program  welcomed our first guest speaker on January 20, 2012 at the Holliswood School.  Musician Stix Bones spoke to the children during our after school session sharing his life story and talent.  Stix is a gifted drummer who agrees that jazz is America’s classical music and students all over should study its history and listen to the music.  The first jazz drummer who had a powerful influence on the artist was a member of the John Coltrane Quartet…Mr. Elvin Jones. We are grateful to Mr. Bones for visiting us. It was a most illuminating and enjoyable day!  The Kids for Coltrane will be welcoming more guest speakers throughout the year.


Our special guest speaker teaching Jessica how to play the drums. The children enjoyed getting drumming tips from Stix Bones. It was a learning experience that  the Kids for Coltrane will never forget!


Check out Khan Academy at…Valuable online free education videos for students. The video posted here shows Bill Gates supporting Salman Khan’s work in education.  I think it is impressive too! ~ Christine Termini Passarella


Andrew receiving the special  Kids for Coltrane Reaching for the Stars Award, June 2011 at the Holliswood School in Jamaica Estates, NY.

Andrew was honored for his incredible dedication to The Kids for Coltrane Project in Education.  On June 22nd, he received The Kids for Coltrane Reaching for the Stars Award.  Andrew “reached out his hand” to me at the end of second grade with an amazing letter asking me to find away to keep the kids together after they were leaving my class.  I was blessed to teach his class for two years. (It was a looped class.)  After reading his inspiring words, I created the Kids for Coltrane enrichment groups…and now we will always be part of this work.  “Thank you Andrew, you are an excellent student and citizen.”

Kids for Coltrane students Stephen and Andrew proudly holding their saxophones after receiving Certificates of Excellence for being members of the Kids for Coltrane. Both boys are founding members of  The Kids for Coltrane since first grade. They are now entering sixth grade! When an opportunity came up to join the school band…they did…and their instrument of choice was the saxophone!  Forty- nine incredible students received Kids for Coltrane Certificates of Excellence at an awards assembly during the month of June 2011.


“One thought can produce millions of vibrations…” ~ John Coltrane

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