Joy of Music was founded in 1986 by Wendy Webster Ardizzone as a program of music & movement classes for preschoolers. In 1989, JOMP was incorporated as a nonprofit community music school to meet the growing demand and raise funds for financial aid. The school has grown from its initial enrollment of 12 to over 500 students from infants to seniors with an outstanding faculty of over 40 musicians, all dedicated to the art of teaching.
In June 2000, Joy of Music was seriously affected by the fire at the First Unitarian Church in Worcester, where it had been a tenant for 16 years. The school had to relocate, resulting in substantial loss of space. For 18 months JOMP faced the enormous challenge of continuing operations while spread out in three churches. In December 2000, the school embarked on its first capital campaign and, with wonderful community support, succeeded in purchasing its own facility. Renovations started in April 2001. On January 3, 2002, the school opened in its new site. A vacant, rundown building is now a beautiful cultural resource for the greater Worcester community. From 2012 through 2016, the school’s second capital campaign succeeded in replacing a collapsed storm water drainage system, paying off the mortgage and building the beautiful 200-seat Joseph & Jordan Shapiro Concert Hall.
In July of 2022, the Board of Directors, staff and faculty joyfully welcomed our new Executive Director, Jennifer Griffin Gaul, to lead the school. Wendy and Rich will overlap the 2022/2023 academic year with Jenny to help transfer institutional knowledge. Wendy will serve as Vice President of Development and Rich as Vice President of Operations during the overlap.
Our mission is “to enrich lives and foster community through accessible music education and performance.” Financial aid is key to this mission. Generous annual donations to our Financial Aid Program from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as students who gather sponsors to raise funds for JOMPATHON, make it possible for us to devote 17% of our budget to financial aid. Last year we raised and awarded $156,541 in need-based scholarships to 108 students. This year’s fundraising goal for financial aid is $200,000 to meet the increased need due to the economic impact of the pandemic.
* Catalogue for Philanthropy (1997 & 2006) ~“ . . . a gem of a community school.”
* YWCA of Central Massachusetts ~ “ . . . a cultural treasure in the community.”
Director Wendy Ardizzone received the 2002 Katharine F. Erskine Award in Arts
* Worcester Telegram & Gazette ~ “. . . excellence and community spirit.”
Joy of Music received the 2005 Visions Award for Cultural Enrichment
* Rainbow Child Development Center ~ “…above and beyond in providing …
special opportunities…” 2008 “Pot O’ Gold” Award (for JOMP outreach)
On all four occasions, JOMP’s remarkable commitment to financial aid was recognized.
JOMP alumni majoring in music are accepted at some of the nation’s finest music schools, including Boston, New England, Oberlin, Peabody and San Fransisco Conservatories; Curtis Institute of Music; Eastman, Frost (University of Miami), Hartt, Ithaca, Juilliard, Longy, Manhattan, Moores (University of Houston), Pappert (Duquesne), Schulich (McGill), Thornton (University of Southern California) and University of Michigan Schools of Music; Berklee College of Music; Boston University College of Fine Arts; Dave Brubeck Institute of the University of the Pacific; CALArts; New School of Jazz (NYC); New York, Northern Illinois, Plymouth State (NH), High Point and Syracuse Universities; UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, and the Universities of Akron, New Hampshire, the Pacific and Southern Maine.
Many JOMP alumni not majoring in music seek schools with strong music departments and actively continue their music as members of college orchestras, jazz ensembles, bands and choruses across the country, including Amherst, Barnard, Boston, Connecticut, Dartmouth, Hamilton, Holy Cross, Ithaca, Middlebury, Oberlin, Providence, Skidmore, Smith, St. Olaf, Swarthmore, Vassar and Wheaton Colleges; Brown, Clark, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, McGill, New York, Northeastern, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tufts and Yale Universities; the Universities of Chicago, Connecticut, Maine, Richmond, Rochester, Vermont and Virginia; MIT and WPI.
Our students are also being accepted by first-rate summer programs, including Amherst Early Music Festival, Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, Eastman Summer Jazz Studies, Killington Music Festival, Maine Jazz Camp, NEC Jazz Lab, New Hampshire and New York Summer Music Festivals, Summer Youth Music School at UNH, National Youth Orchestra of the USA and NYO2, Philadelphia International Music Camp & Festival, and Tanglewood Institute.
Recent Outreach Programs:
* Chorus, Creative Movement and Drumming at JOMP for children from Rainbow
Child Development Center and Worcester Housing Authority’s Great Brook Valley
after-school and summer programs.
* Elder Drumming at Notre Dame Du Lac Assisted Living led by Nan Gibbons.
* Burncoat Quadrant Initiative: Students from six elementary and Burncoat Middle
and Senior High Schools receive financial aid for lessons, ensembles and orchestra.
* Partnerships with Mentor Network, Rise Above Foundation, Devereux Massachusetts
and Ascentria Care Alliance providing private lessons for children and teens in foster
care and for teen and young adult unaccompanied refugees.
Through performances at annual meetings, festivals and nonprofit fund raisers, JOMP students enrich the cultural vitality of the Worcester community. Not only do they learn that by sharing their music they can contribute to the ambiance and success of these events, they learn about the important work of each organization.