Excitement fills backstage when it is time to present those who won the John Coltrane Student Instrument Contest with their prize instruments and present the winners on stage. For many of the young people, the moment represents reaching a goal or at least attaining a needed component to help them reach a goal. The contest offers student musicians an opportunity to win a brand-new instrument. It has become a signature part of the John Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival (JCIJBF). The 2023 winners are…

Zion Dones – 6th Grade – Trumpet

“Music runs through my head all day, but music doesn’t just come from what I know in my head already, music speaks to me.


Angel Cruz – 8th Grade – Tenor Sax

“Jazz is a highly collaborative genre, and playing in a jazz ensemble requires a great deal of communication and trust between musicians. It has taught me the importance of listening to others and being open to new ideas.”



Emilie Bowman – 12th grade – Alto Saxophone
“I’ve been borrowing my friend’s saxophone, and while that’s okay, I’d like to have my own so I’m not held back by not being able to practice at home.  I like how music can be so broad and have different meanings for each individual. Music has the power to bring people together.


Ernest Hu – 8th grade – Clarinet
Over the summer, I got myself to try improvisation with a group of people in a camp whom I had never met before. It challenged me to think on my feet and take risks, and as a result helped me build confidence which I usually don’t have.”



Matthew Cooper – 8th grade – Drum Set

Began listening to classical music his mother played while getting him ready for school. He grew to embrace many genres; R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz focusing in on the rhythm of the drums that made each distinctly its own.

Aniyah Poindexter – 8th Grade – Tenor Sax

 “Moreover, R&B and jazz have also had a significant impact on culture and society. These genres have been used to promote social justice, civil rights, and equality for marginalized communities.”


Cameron Morgan – 7th Grade –  Trumpet
“I think a new trumpet could help to boost my playing skill and expand what I can play. My trumpet right now limits what I can play because of the parts it is missing. I am missing a part on the valve and the bell disconnected from the trumpet.”

Lincoln Crosby- 12th Grade – Tenor Saxophone
“My goal is that someday, someone will feel my music the same way I did on those nights where all I wanted was jazz and peace.”



Gabriela Farinas – 9th grade – Clarinet
 “My parents bought my plastic clarinet on Amazon for 180.00 dollars when we arrived here one year ago. I would love to win a better clarinet with a good mouthpiece.”


Jack Sweeney – 12th grade – Trumpet

“I hope to use my musical gifts to serve others throughout my lifetime.  Therefore, I can truly say that jazz is swung yet steadfast, because it will always be a part of my life no matter what the future has to bring.”


Micah Harris – 7h Grade – Curved Soprano Sax (Not Pictured)
 “I had to get an instrument and that’s when the problem started.My mom didn’t have enough money to get an instrument. I started looking into instruments and I found one that caught my eye. It was a curved soprano saxophone. The sound and the way it looked was amazing. It was meant for me.”

by | Dec 29, 2023 | Blog

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