Bellingham Youth Jazz Band

The Bellingham Youth Jazz band plans to resume in the Fall of 2022. Barring any new COVID-type outbreaks or restrictions, we hope to welcome interested 7th grade and older musicians to join us in September. Informational fliers will be sent to local schools and music stores at the end of Summer. Due to the vulnerability of those we serve, full COVID-19 vaccinations will be required of all participants (and any family members that come to our concerts) by September 2022. If you are interested in joining the band at that time, contact us at and click ‘contact’; we will give you first notice of planned rehearsal & performance schedule.

As we consult with local health officials, nursing home & retirement community operators, Bellingham Senior Center, Whatcom County Parks and regional School districts this website will serve as the monitor for what to expect moving forward. When the BYJB resumes participating students and their respective families will be required to have full COVID vaccines completed.

The Jazz Project’s “Bellingham Youth Jazz Band” was created in 1997 by musician and educator, Mark Kelly, as a feeder program for the local high school jazz bands. The group was most recently (2020) made up of 18 students ranging from 5th – 10th grade from 8 regional schools.   The BYJB rehearses Wednesday night at the Bellingham Senior Activities Center, where space for the group is donated by Whatcom County Parks.

The BYJB performs about 40 free community concerts annually throughout Whatcom County in local parks, theaters, schools, nursing homes, fairs, for dances, and jazz festivals.  The BYJB learns and recreates the classic American Jazz repertoire of the 1920’s – 1970’s using a standard 18 piece big band format. In addition, select students make up several smaller combos to perform at concerts, and individuals are featured on solos and vocal arrangements.

The Jazz Project charges tuition ($200 per trimester) and seeks private and public grants and donations from the community. Fund raising activities by parents and students supplement the annual budget. The Jazz Project (a 501(c)3 non-profit), pays for music, equipment, director salary, scholarships, lessons, clinicians, and all other expenses. All contributions to The Jazz Project are tax-deductible and can be made by clicking the donate now tab on the sidebar of this page. Contact Jud Sherwood for more information on how you can support the BYJB.

The BYJB plays regularly around Bellingham to a wide range of audiences. Mark Kelly was awarded the Mayor’s Arts Award in 2000, the San Juan Music Educator’s ‘Friend of Music’ award in 2008 and the Whatcom Family & Community Network’s ‘Ken Gass Community Building Award’ in 2015 for his work with these young musicians. If you would like the BYJB to play for your event, or know someone who would like to audition for the band, please contact Mark Kelly at 360.676.5750.  Contact the Jazz Project for scholarship information and applications @ 360.650.1066.

Check this website for future developments.