Many people love our traditional HBCU style marching band, The Empire Marching Elite (TEME), but for many young people, especially those who have never played an instrument before, it will take many years of training before they're able to keep up with the all-stars in TEME. We knew that we needed to create a program that would help new musicians grow, and in response, we created the Junior Empire Marching Elite (JEME). JEME is made up of our After School and Summer Enrichment Program participants, and welcomes young people ages 5 to 13. JEME, just like TEME, offers instruction in horns, percussion, dance, and flag corps.
The biggest goal of our marching band programs is to create opportunities for young people in New York City to pursue and acquire marching band scholarships to HBCUs. We realize that our young people are not just competing against qualified, in-state residents, but against musicians who live in areas where every elementary, middle and high school has a music program. Many collegiate bandsmen at HBCUs have been playing their respective instruments since grade school. With the availability of music and arts programming in NYC schools rapidly declining, it became less and less feasible for our young people to have a fighting chance in their scholarship pursuits. (Continue reading below)
When thinking about the state of arts programming in our city, the phrase "see a need, fill a need" came to mind, and we decided to offer traditional HBCU style marching band fundamentals as the core of our After School and Summer Enrichment Programs. Through these programs, our young people receive at least two hours of music or dance instruction daily. As part of our program, they learn about show-style band culture while growing in their respective crafts and performing at local community events.
JEME, along with the other programs of BALAA, provides a safe and inclusive space for young people where they can feel welcomed and loved, and be engaged in positive activities during prime disruptive hours.
To be eligible for JEME, participants must be actively enrolled in our After School or Summer Enrichment Programs. Learn more about those programs here. Click here to enroll in either program. Already enrolled? Click here to register for JEME.