J. Plunky Branch presents African-American music concert-lectures for elementary through high
school grade levels. He is a professional musician who has been performing, touring, lecturing
and producing recordings for over 40 years. As a soloist and with his ensembles, his age-
appropriate presentations demonstrate instrumental proficiency; inform students about the
history and aesthetics of Black music, and inspire students to appreciate how music functions as
a cultural asset and enriches their lives.
Branch’s school concerts cover a range of topics and can be targeted for Black History Month,
special events or related to other core curriculum subjects. The presentations are ideal for
assembly programs and they can be scaled down for individual classroom lessons.
Over the years, thousands of students have enjoyed learning about African and jazz music,
clapping polyrhythms, singing, improvising and gaining new perspectives about culture. And
teachers and administrators have marveled at their students’ rapt attention and lasting
impressions, and how well the lecture demonstrations reinforced their regular lessons.
The J. Plunky Branch concert lectures relate to Virginia’s Music Standards of Learning (SOL) for
public schools, particularly in the areas of cultural context and music theory, judgment and
criticism, and aesthetics. The concert lectures supply information which will assist in achieving
at least four of the Music SOL goals, including having students: 1) Exercise critical thinking skills
by investigating and analyzing all facets of the music discipline; 2) Demonstrate understanding
of the relationship of music to history and culture; 3) Make connections between music and
other fields of knowledge; and, 4) Demonstrate the ability to apply aesthetic criteria for making