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A Passion for Drumming Strikes a Beat of Success

In the heart of Woodward High School, J'mir Dixon, 9th grade student, moves to the rhythm of his own beat. While he may come across as reserved and shy in the hallways, put him behind a drum set and he transforms into a different person.

Dixon’s love for Jazz started in 3rd grade when he was introduced to CPS Jazz Academy. Jazz Academy is a program offered to all CPS students to learn how to play jazz. The program removes all barriers by providing transportation, instruments, snacks and private lessons if needed. 

When Dixon joined Jazz Academy,  Dr. Isidore Rudnick, CPS Fine Arts Manager, and creator of Jazz Academy, knew Dixon had something special. “I've been doing this for 40 years. So when you see an exceptional talent you know it right away,” said Dr. Rudnick. “I also loved his boisterous personality. I thought to myself, if we can get him into Jazz Academy, if we can get him studying privately and give him these unique opportunities, then the sky's the limit for this young man.”

Dixon's passion grew quickly. “Listening and learning the history of Jazz got me interested,” said Dixon. “After hearing about it I was like ‘Wow! This is so amazing.” Since joining, Dixon’s passion provided him with remarkable opportunities including playing at local organizations, with adult bands and artists, joining them for jam sessions whenever he can.

His innate talent and dedication earned him the respect of seasoned musicians, proving that age is no barrier when your heart beats to the rhythm of your passion. Dixon explained, “When I play I feel like me, I feel like there’s a part of me that only comes out when I’m playing.”

Dixon’s journey from a reserved student to a confident jazz drummer inspires teachers and students alike to pursue one's dreams with determination and passion. As he continues on this musical path, Dixon aspires to become a professional jazz drummer, striving for even greater heights in his musical career.