Christopher Dorsey

Christopher Dorsey

Director of Jazz & Contemporary Music Studies
Dillard Center For The Arts


Mr. Dorsey received his Bachelors of Music Education from Jackson State University (1983) and his M. S. of Education – Instrumental Music, from the University of Florida (1986).

Christopher has taught for more than 33 years at various schools in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. His intent is to give students the opportunity to compete with other high school programs on a State and National level and provide opportunities for students to pursue careers in music. His main mission is to teach life skills through music.

All of Dorsey's bands: Jazz, Orchestra and Concert, have received Superior Ratings on the District and State levels for more than 30 consecutive years. Students in all of Mr. Dorsey’s programs, past and present, have been accepted to the finest colleges, universities and conservatories in the US, often with generous scholarships.

Since 2004, Christopher Dorsey, Director of Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies, has developed the Jazz Program at Dillard Center for the Arts into one of the premier high school jazz programs in the country. Over the years, the program has developed from one to three jazz bands and they have reached a level of skill, style and swing that has earned the program a strong national presence.

The DCA Jazz Ensemble, under Mr. Dorsey’s direction, has accomplished some of the following:

  • Finalists of the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019) with performances at Lincoln Center in New York City with world-renowned jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in 2011, 2012 and 2018 as First Place winners.
  • Featured band for the Annual Cannonball Adderley Birthday Concert & Celebration, which takes place each September. The band has performed with Nat Adderley, Jr., Nicole Henry and Louis Hayes.
  • DCA Jazz Ensemble performed w/special guest Dr. Ron McCurdy in Ask Your Mama - 12 Moods for Jazz. (The Langston Hughes Project). This performance was April 16, 2016 and was a multimedia concert performance of Langston Hughes kaleidoscopic jazz poem suite which featured the Ron McCurdy Quartet.
  • December 20, 2013 performance at the 67th Annual Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference – Chicago, IL.
  • Performed with Wynton Marsalis, Artistic Director of Jazz @ Lincoln Center, at the 66th Annual Midwest Clinic, an International Band and Orchestra Conference – Chicago, IL – December 20, 2012.
  • The 2012, 2011 & 2010 winners of the Swing Central Jazz Competition and Workshop in Savannah, GA.
  • Several jazz band members selected for participation in Grammy Band, Jazz Band of America, Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, All State Jazz Band and All County Jazz Band.
  • DCA Jazz graduates on scholarships to Manhattan School of Music, Julliard, New School of Jazz, University of Miami, Michigan State University and Florida State University.
  • Scholarship winners of the Gold Coast Jazz Society (Jeanette M. Russell Scholarship) attended various jazz workshops i. e.: Vail Jazz Workshop, Brubeck Summer Jazz Colony, Centrum Jazz Workshop, Stanford University, Michigan State University, Abersold Jazz Camp and the Apprentices in Jazz Workshop.
  • Each year, Chris is pleased to have numerous students participate in the All County Jazz Band and All State Jazz Bands.

The Ensemble has also worked with several well-known and respected artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Lou Donaldson, Rodney Whitaker, Willerm Delisfort, Marquis Hill, Ron Carter, Jeff Clayton, Vincent Gardner, Wycliffe Gordon, Marcus Printup, Victor Goines, Chris Crenshaw, Walter Blanding, John Clayton, Gerald Clayton, Ali Jackson, Ted Nash, Brubeck Brothers, Negroni’s Trio and Chico Hamilton.

Prior to assuming his position at Dillard Center for the Arts (DCA), Chris was a successful educator at Miami Northwestern Senior High School in Miami, Florida. He served as the Fine Arts Department Chairman and Director of the Jazz, Concert, Symphonic and the Mighty Marching Bulls Bands from 1996 to 2004.

Under his direction, the Mighty Marching Bulls and the Symphonic Bands rated Superior five out of eight years. The Jazz Band rated Superior, eight consecutive years on the District level and seven years on the State level. The Northwestern bands received performance awards at the IAJE and Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic conferences in 2001.

Chris has similar success with middle school students. In the midst of the turmoil and devastation from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Mr. Dorsey was invited to become the Director of Bands – Beginning, Concert, Jazz and Symphonic Bands at Homestead Middle School. From 1992 to 1993, the Jazz and Concert Bands received straight Superiors. His success continued at John F. Kennedy Middle School, where under his tutelage, the Jazz and Concert Bands received straight Superiors three consecutive years.

Chris continuously inspires, motivates and teaches his students a love for music that can evoke the emotions of the listener. “My career in music education started at Little River Elementary School. The experience I have gained working with children of all age groups has prepared me to instruct and develop any student to strive to reach their potential.”

Mr. Dorsey is an accomplished musician and has performed with jazz greats such as Nat Adderley, Al Grey, Slide Hampton, Lionel Hampton and the Roland Burnes Quintet. As a featured trombonist, Chris toured extensively through Europe with the off Broadway production of “Ain’t Misbehavin” and worked with Dionne Warwick and Melton Mustafa.

Chris is an active member of FBA, FOA, MENC, and FMEA. He is an FBA Certified Adjudicator and has been called upon to adjudicate for Music Performance Assessment Evaluations throughout the state.

In addition to his teaching, Christopher has served as the Conductor of the Miami Wind Symphony Jazz Ensemble, the MMEA NE District 2019 Senior Honors Jazz Band, the GMEA District 8 2016 High School Honors Jazz Band and the 2016 Volusia County Honors Jazz Band. Chris has also served as Guest Conductor for the Broward County’s Honors Jazz Band in 2002 and the Miami-Dade County’s Honors Jazz Band in 1999.

Professionally, Dorsey is a highly sought after Adjudicator and Clinician. Chris regularly serves as an adjudicator for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington Regional Festivals, held throughout the US. In 2017, Chris was nominated and won Arts Teacher of the Year – ArtsEd Forever! The Arts Teacher of the Year Award was created by the Broward County Cultural Division and Council in 1985 to recognize and honor a significant arts teacher in the Broward County Public Schools. Chris received an award for the 2017 Outstanding School Arts Education Professional from the Florida Alliance for Arts Education and Teacher of the year – Dillard Center for the Arts – October 2016.

  Session Titles

Best Practices


Best Shared Practices I've used in the past Thirty Plus Years

Concept Based Jazz Band Rehearsal


Showing Band Directors how to use the same basic fundamentals that are used on a daily bases in jazz

Incorporating Jazz Improvisation in the Big Band Rehearsal


Showing Band Directors How to Incorporate Basic Jazz improvisation in the big band setting on a daily Basis.

Selection Of Good Literature in Jazz Band


How to select Good Jazz band Literature and what to look for

Teaching the Language of Jazz


Teaching the vocalization of jazz using the syllables for articulations.