The mission of the Music Department at KCKCC is to develop the well-rounded musician through theory and practice – artistically, intellectually, and technically. This well-rounded musicianship is achieved through studying and performing music of not only the classical tradition, but also in the jazz and contemporary popular styles. Students integrate theory and practice in an environment in which they become active learners through their relationships with faculty, who themselves continue to grow as artists and teachers.

The primary objective of the Choral Music Program at KCKCC is to educate the students and the community about vocal ensemble music through stylistic variety and tonal diversity, based on historical precedent. This objective is achieved by exposing choir members to music of different nationalities and/or cultures and their commitment to recreate a unique tone quality that identifies with the cultural environment of each composition.The award-winning KCKCC Vocal Jazz Program takes pride in performing collegiate and professional-level vocal jazz ensemble literature. The students in the vocal jazz program learn jazz education through a variety of methods. First of all, several of the students take private vocal jazz coachings weekly. They also perform music by professional vocal ensembles, arrangements by well-known vocal jazz educators, and learn jazz and popular music standards (both through the ensemble and within the private coachings).

Vocal Jazz Ensembles

"The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

MWF | 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

The Standard, the award-winning contemporary vocal jazz ensemble from Kansas City Kansas Community College. They have been invited to perform at the national conferences of the Jazz Education Network, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association for Music Education.

The Standard has also been selected to perform at the Southwestern Divisional Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop, the New York Voices Jazz Festival, and the Real Group Festival, and the New York City Jazz Festival at Jazz at the Lincoln Center. The Standard received a number #1 rating at the University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival. Within the last five years, members of The Standard have won twelve DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards for Outstanding Performance, Live Engineered Recording, Studio Engineered Recording, and Outstanding Soloist in the Community College category. The most recent DownBeat awards included being the 2020 Community College Winner for Blues/Pop/Rock Ensemble and the 2020 Community College Co-Winner for Large Vocal Jazz Ensemble. 

In December of 2018, The Standard released their first studio recording, Feelin’ Good, and the album has been played on radio stations throughout the Midwest. In September 2020, The Standard has digitally released their first single recording of Justin Binek’s composition, Reparations. In June 2021, the ensemble will release their second studio album, entitled Coal and Diamonds. The group has shared the stage with such highly acclaimed artists as Take 6, New York Voices, m-pact, Carmen Bradford, Dianne Reeves, and Marilyn Maye.

Video performance of the "The Standard" Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Fusion Vocal Ensemble

MWF | 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m.

Fusion is an auditioned vocal jazz group that is in its 6th year of existence. The focus of the ensemble is to study performance practice of blues, rock, and soul music. Fusion received a number #2 rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival. They have also performed at the Millikin University Vocal Jazz Festival, the North Central ACDA Vocal Jazz Festival, and the The Real Group Festival at Southwestern Community College.

Video performance of Fusion Vocal Ensemble

Professional Music Ensemble (Directed by Dr. Justin Binek)

TTH | 12:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Our Pro Music Ensemble is designed for to combine both student instrumentalists and vocalists to study and perform together a different style of music every semester. The focus of this ensemble is to explore different styles including latin, funk, rock, blues and hip-hop.

Video performance of Professional Music Ensemble

Summer Jazz Choir

Mondays only in June and July | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Summer Jazz Choir is our community jazz choir that meets for eight rehearsals every summer and presents one performance in early August. Open to members of the community wishing to sing in a choir once a week. Ages range from high school upperclassmen to older adults. 

Video performance of the Summer Jazz Choir

Choral Ensembles

Chamber Choir

MWF | 12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m.

KCKCC’s auditioned choir is a 50+ voice auditioned ensemble specializing in choral music from the 20th and 21st century. The choir perform throughout the Midwest, serving as ambassadors of college.

Video performance of the Chamber Choir

Community Chamber Choir

Mondays only (Fall and Spring Semesters only) | 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Open to members of the community wishing to sing in a choir once a week, ages range from high school upperclassmen to older adults. Community Chamber Choir performs at the major KCKCC Choral Concerts once or twice a semester.

Video performance of the Community Chamber Choir

Full-Tuition Music Scholarships

Our music department offers a three-year, full-tuition vocal music scholarship. The award covers tuition only, not books or fees. Also, the award is only for fall and spring semesters (it is not offered for summer semester). Students can be any major, but preference will be given to music majors. 

Requirements are the following: 

  • Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA. 
  • Students are required to take choir, applied voice lessons, vocal jazz ensemble (depending on fall auditions), and at least one semester of music theory.

Recent Performances for KCKCC Choral Ensembles

  • 2019 National Conference of the Jazz Education Network
  • 2018 National Conference of the National Association for Music Education
  • 2017 and 2018 Three Student Music Awards from Downbeat Magazine
  • 2017 National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association
  • 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 Kansas Music Educators Association In-Service Workshop
  • 2016, 2017, 2018 JENerations Jazz Festival as part of the Jazz Educators Network National Conference
  • #1 Rating at the 2015 University of Northern Colorado/Greeley Jazz Festival
  • 2014 New York City Jazz Festival with Dr. Steve Zegree
  • 2013 and 2018 New York Voices Jazz Festival (IL)
  • 2018 The Real Group Vocal Festival (IA)
  • Masterclass with the New York Voices at KCKCC (2014)
  • 2015 and 2018 Masterclass and Performance with M-PACT
  • Performance with the New York Voices (2019)
  • Performance with Take 6 at Bethany College (2017)
  • Masterclass with Cantus in Minneapolis, MN (2012)
  • Masterclass with Dr. Anton Armstrong at St. Olaf College (2012)
  • Masterclass with Dr. Ron McCurdy of USC at KCKCC (2015)
  • Masterclass with Kevin Mahogany at KCKCC (2015)
  • Masterclass with Marilyn Maye at The Green Lady Lounge Jazz Club in Kansas City (2015)
  • Masterclass with Anders Jalkeus (original bass vocalist for The Real Group) at Bethany College (2016)
  • Friends University Jazz Festival performance with Carmen Bradford (2018)


John Stafford II
Director of Choral Music, Vocal Jazz Ensembles and Co-Music Department Coordinator

Justin Binek, D.M.A.
Music Theory, Jazz Studies and Jazz Piano

Elizabeth Birger, D.M.A.
Applied Voice

Sarah LaBarr
Applied Voice, Music Theory, and Music Appreciation

Mike Ning
Jazz Piano Accompanist and Vocal Coaching

Julia Scozzafava
Applied Voice

Joyce Steeby
Staff Accompanist and Vocal Coaching