Lorrie Heagy, program director of Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lorrie Heagy, program director of Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

They’re JAMMin’: Music program creates able-minded students

Juneau Alaska Music Matters shares about its mission to Chamber of Commerce

The Juneau Alaska Music Matters program is creating more than new violinists. It’s also creating youth in-tune socially, emotionally and intellectually, said JAMM leaders.

Meghan Johnson, JAMM executive director, and Lorrie Heagy, JAMM program director, repeatedly highlighted this Thursday during a presentation at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. The music program is celebrating its 10th year of partnership with the Juneau School District.

In that time, the program has developed students with higher-than-average scores in math and English, they said.

Meghan Johnson, executive director of Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), right, plays the National Anthem with high school freshmen who started their music careers in the JAMM program on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. The students were part of the presentation Johnson, and Program Director Lorrie Heagy to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Moose Lodge. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Meghan Johnson, executive director of Juneau Alaska Music Matters (JAMM), right, plays the National Anthem with high school freshmen who started their music careers in the JAMM program on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. The students were part of the presentation Johnson, and Program Director Lorrie Heagy to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce during its luncheon at the Moose Lodge. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The program started at Glacier Valley Elementary 10 years ago as a school-readiness program, and it now also operates in Auke Bay and Riverbend elementary schools. All kindergartners and first-graders at those three schools receive regular violin instruction.

“The research behind it is if you have at least two years of an instrumental background, it not only prepares the brain to be successful for academic success but to be a contributing citizen in your community,” Heagy said.

Starting in second grade, the program becomes an optional after-school activity, and students receive a broader musical education.

“We also do music technology,” Johnson said. “We have a recording technology studio at Riverbend. We do ukulele, we’ve done hula, musical theater, all sorts of other opportunities and exploratories for students.”

“In addition to the academic readiness that we are reinforcing, we are also working on trauma-sensitive practices and reaching the social, emotional needs of our students,” Johnson added. “So that in all that we do, we are developing citizens who will contribute to society.”

At the end of the talk, seven members of JAMM’s inaugural class performed a song about Juneau. Raven Homeschool ninth-grader Jemima Verebasaga was one of the first kindergartens to go through the JAMM program. She told the audience that music is one of the only ways she can “truly express” herself.

“When I’m having a rough day, I just listen to music, play music and I feel so much better,” she said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com.


More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Oct. 2

Here’s what to expect this week.

Artist Rick Kauzlarich, created portraits of each Juneau Artists Gallery member to commemorate our yearly Juneau Appreciation Event Sale. (Courtesy Photo / Rick Kauzlarich)
Here’s what’s happening for First Friday

A world premiere, closing exhibitions and so much more.

Screenshot / Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel 
Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media.
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

People work together to raise the Xa’Kooch story pole, which commemorates the Battle of the Inian Islands. (Shaelene Grace Moler / For the Capital City Weekly)
Resilient Peoples & Place: The Xa’Kooch story pole — one step toward a journey of healing

“This pole is for the Chookaneidi, but here among us, many clans are represented…”

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

A chart shows what critics claim is poor financial performance by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, especially in subsidizing private industry projects intended to boost the state’s economy, during its 55-year existence. The chart is part of a report released Tuesday criticizing the agency. (MB Barker/LLC Erickson & Associates/EcoSystems LLC)
AIDEA’s fiscal performance fishy, critics say

Report presented by salmon industry advocates asserts state business subsidy agency cost public $10B

Most Read