CHANNAHON – Janet Jones teaches, directs, plays and advocates for music – all kinds of music.
Mostly Jones – a quarterfinalist for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation – teaches.
“I think music teaches everybody to be kinder, to be more well-rounded, more of aware of the world and how we perceive things, how we work through our daily lives – conflicts, problems, sadness,” Jones said. “I think music just makes people very happy. It’s always made me happy.”
Jones said she knew by age 7 she wanted to teach. When Jones began teaching music in 1988 at Kirby School District 140 in Tinley Park, she was supplied with a a record player, “a couple of rhythm sticks,” and “a few other instruments,” such as an xylophone.
The children far outnumbered the equipment. So Jones asked the district to purchase more instruments – and still more. Eventually Jones’ students were performing concerts and hosting drumming circles.
Jones’ musical cache now includes adaptive instruments for students with special needs – including students who are hearing impaired – and instruments from all over the globe.
“Children enjoy music so much when when it’s hands-on, when they get to play instruments, when they get to sing,” Jones said. “Music is not listening to someone talk about what music is.”
Jones grades students on enthusiasm and “a certain amount of proficiency,” as most children can at least play percussion. On three occasions, Jones has taken students to the state capitol to advocate for music education funding. All-school involvement isn’t limited to concerts.
“We had a conducting contest where children learned how to conduct basic patterns,” Jones said. “We had a student winner and a teacher winner. They got to conduct the choir. We have a children’s choir that performs as well.”
The month of March this year was dedicated to music. Jones put 100 music facts around the school building for people to read. She hosted “Name that Tune” contests. She put instruments in the hallway for people to explore.
In addition to teaching music, Jones is the minister of music for the Plainfield Congregational Church United Church of Christ. Jones conducts the adult and children’s choir, chancel band and the contemporary group, Inspiration.
The Rev. Thom Parrott-Sheffer, the church’s pastor, said Jones is the “consummate professional” and praised Jones’ abilities and dedication. He’s worked with her and under her direction.
“I play with her in the band,” Parrott-Sheffer said, “and I sing with her in the choir.”
Jones is also a member of the 27-year-old classic rock band UnionJack, where she sings and plays keyboards and percussion. Aside from the band, Jones is also a flutist.
ABOUT THE MUSIC EDUCATOR AWARD
According to a news release from Grammy.org, 290 music teachers from 264 cities in 41 states are quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.
The award recognizes educators who have made significant contributions in the music education field.
A number of quarterfinalists hailed from Illinois. Locally, these also include Cameron Kotovsky from Coal City High School, and Joe Renardo from Indian Trail Middle School in Frankfort.
The recipient will be honored during Grammy Week 2017.
ABOUT JANET JONES
According information supplied by Jones, her accomplishments include:
• 1982 – Bachelor of Science in music education, University of Illinois
• 1984 – Master of Music in piano performance, University of Illinois. Also a Master of Music in performance in piano/piano pedagogy/voice.
• 1988 – Taught at Yamaha Music Education School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
* 1988 – Hired as a music teacher in Kirby School District 140 in Tinley Park. Presented and demonstrated the evolutionary Yamaha Clavinova to the district, which led to the purchase on new digital keyboards for each music classroom.
• 2002 – Awarded a certificate from former superintendent Gary Peck for “Distinguished Achievement for our Veterans Day Celebration.”
• 2008 – One of 23 teachers and the only teacher in District 140 to apply for and be awarded a Promethean Board (interactive board) for the music students. Began as minister of music for Plainfield Congregational Church United Church of Christ.
• 2009, 2011 and 2013 – In May of each of those years, Jones and select music students represented District 140 at the State Capitol Building in Springfield for the ICE TECH conference. Students spoke to state senators and representatives about the importance of funding for music education and technology.
• 2009 – In December, choir students joined numerous public schools in Chicago for a combined “One Accord” choir. The performance was in conjunction with a topping off ceremony for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
For more information about UnionJack, visit www.facebook.com/unionjackclassicrockband/?fref=ts