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Griffin, Roosevelt

Dr. Roosevelt Griffin III, a scholar and practitioner in music education, has dedicated over two decades to public schools, treating music education not merely as a career but as a way of life. Anchoring his teaching philosophy in intentionality, care, and love, Dr. Griffin promotes musical excellence, unity, and diversity. 

In 2017, he founded the Griffin Institute of Performing Arts NFP, a nonprofit organization committed to leveraging the transformative power of the arts to uplift students and families in southern Cook County and beyond. Dr. Griffin currently serves in multiple roles: as the Dyett Chair for Jazz Studies, Diversity, and Inclusion at VanderCook College of Music; as Jazz Academy Ensembles Director for the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic; and as the Director of Education and Community Outreach for the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, he owns and operates GI Music LLC, a venture aimed at nurturing and supporting music programs in educational institutions. 

A champion of student-centered music education, Dr. Griffin has resonated with educators globally. He maintains that a unified band room is as vital to achieving musical excellence as mastering technical skills, a philosophy that has brought his bands to stages nationwide. Dr. Griffin’s outstanding contributions to music education have garnered him several prestigious accolades, including the 2014 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching and the unique honor of having a street in his hometown, Harvey, IL, renamed “Roosevelt Griffin III Ave.” His recent awards encompass the 2022 John LaPorta Jazz Educator of the Year from the Jazz Education Network and Berklee College of Music, the 2022 Think Big Educator Award from the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, and the 2022–2023 Dr. William P. Foster Community Development Award from the Music Education Alliance. 

Dr. Griffin’s innovative teaching strategies have been highlighted in top academic publications such as Teaching Music Magazine, DownBeat, JAZZed, and the video series Teaching with Poverty in Mind, as well as in the co-authored books Teaching Music through Performance: Beginning Jazz Ensembles and Rehearsing the Jazz Band. He was also featured in an article titled “Finding Strength in Everybody” in the April–May 2023 issue of The Instrumentalist

After earning his Bachelor of Music and Illinois K–12 Teaching Certificate from Northern Illinois University, Dr. Griffin pursued a Master of Arts in School Leadership from Concordia University Chicago. He also holds an EdD in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University in Chicago. A sabbatical granted by the Golden Apple Foundation at Northwestern University further underscored his pivotal role in music education. 

To learn more about Dr. Griffin, visit