"Class Got Brass" applications open now

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Published on: February 9th, 2020

906 Class Got Brass 2016 [Photo by Carrie Booher]

Class Got Brass 2016 [Photo by Carrie Booher]
Class Got Brass 2016 [Photo by Carrie Booher]

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is accepting applications for the 8th annual "Class Got Brass" competition, a contest for Louisiana high schools and middle school brass bands. At stake are more than $40,000 worth of instruments for the participating schools’ music programs.

Apply online by Friday, March 13. Please read the full guidelines before applying. 

In years past, Class Got Brass was held on the Sunday of Congo Square Rhythms Festival in March. The Jazz & Heritage Foundation moved that festival to November but decided to keep Class Got Brass in March to be part of a new Music Education Festival! "Class Got Brass" will now be its own stand-alone event on Sunday, March 22. It's going back to the streets. It’ll take place at the 1100 block of Henriette Delille Street in Treme (in front of Backstreet Cultural Museum). 

Class Got Brass is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s program to support music education in the schools while promoting the brass band  tradition. It's a contest for Louisiana middle and high schools to create traditional New Orleans-style brass bands (as opposed to marching bands). Come see some of your School Groove favorites in the flesh and cut up to support the next generation of New Orleans musicians! 


Class Got Brass was started in 2012 to address two core issues: 1) lack of funds for music education in the schools, and; 2) a lack of emphasis on traditional New Orleans music in the many school band programs that are doing great work despite tremendous obstacles.  The goals of Class Got Brass are to create an incentive for band programs to embrace the joyful sounds of New Orleans brass bands, and to reward participating schools with funds that support their music instruction.


Class Got Brass is open to middle schools and high schools – public and private – anywhere in Louisiana. 


Prizes in the "advanced" category will be $10,000 for first place, $7,000 for second and $5,000 for third.

There is also a category for beginner bands, with prizes of $5,000, $4,000 and $3,000 for first, second and third place, respectively. All other participating schools receive a stipend of $1,000.

The prizes from  New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation may be redeemed for instruments, instrument repair or other supplies that benefit the winning schools’ band programs.


Judges are a who's who of New Orleans musicians and music educators.

Competing bands are limited to 12 members – only one bass drum, one snare drum and one tuba. All other instruments must be part of the recognized brass band tradition. Schools are encouraged to augment their bands with “steppers,” or dancers. But all performers – musicians, dancers, grand marshals, etc. – must be students currently enrolled in the competing school.

Each contestant must open their performance with a traditional dirge.

They also must perform an up-tempo traditional or contemporary song from the brass band repertoire. For a list of approved songs, please see here.

In addition, each contestant will be scored according to five criteria:

• Adherence to tradition (How much does it sound like a New Orleans second-line band?)
• Originality (How much of their own personality is in the performance?)
• Improvisation (Do the band members interact with one another?)
• Tightness (Do they sound rehearsed and together?)
• Overall presentation (Do they sound good? Do they look good? Are they having fun?)


For more details on how to participate, please see these guidelines , then enter by using the online application form.

You can also give the Jazz & Heritage Foundation a call at 504-558-6100.

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