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Jon Barnes, Music Master

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Jon-Barnes-and-Miles-Davis-By Eliz Dowdy

The Precinct Reporter had the opportunity to sit down with music master Jon Barnes recently and delve into his heart and soul. He is not only a world class musician who played in the movie “Dirty Dancing,” but has left his footprint in the disciplines of writing, composing, producing, as a businessman and educator. As a youth growing up in Baltimore, he was surrounded by the sounds of his mother playing the organ in church. He fondly recalled the melodic sounds of his grandmother rocking him while she hummed. Music began to develop in the young Barnes as he studied piano. His trumpet-playing prowess began in church and elementary school. Barnes was fortunate to have mentors along the way who helped to develop the latent talent and encouraged him to expand his horizon. One of those mentors was a violinist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and also a jazz pianist; another from his school days at Garrison Junior High School developed the music theory and composition strands.

Asked when his music interest began, Barnes was quick to point to the church where his mother took him; although he took music lessons at an early age, it was the influence of the church where the real lessons flourished that has served him well. Barnes believes that as you serve others, the Creator bestows opportunities and opens doors for advancement. He stated that his life is not about music at all costs, but he incorporates biblical principles into his music in how he treats other people, the boundaries he sets for what he will and will not do to accomplish his goals.

It has obviously worked for the master musician who resides in Apple Valley. Asked how he came from Baltimore to Apple Valley, laughing he stated that his wife was in the military, so when he graduated from Virginia Polytechnic University, they headed straight for the high desert communities. They have raised their children here and absorbed the high desert soil to grow and prosper.

Barnes has had a hand in recording, touring, and/or producing projects for some of the top names in show business. The late Billy Preston, the Temptations, Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony and the Imperials are just a sampling of the gigs he participated in. Yet for all of his success, Barnes definitely has his feet firmly planted among the creosotes and Joshua trees. He is affable, approachable, and can always be found quietly giving back to the local community. He performs at senior care centers, for domestic abuse conferences, churches and youth activities. One of his projects is Kids Music Corner; where children are introduced to, or exposed to music through music workshops.

This sponsor-financed endeavor enables Barnes to get children connected to the right music--as he stated--a music that is positive and sends a good message. Music is the only discipline that exercises both sides of the brain; it has been used for developmentally challenged children; those who have suffered great trauma in their lives can also be helped through the melodious strains of music. Barnes is working with children nationwide to achieve that goal of music therapy; he described it as one of the ways he gives back to the community. Interested individuals should contact Barnes through; or

He stated that the reward is when former students come up to him and tell him how important those sessions were to them as children, then he described his students as ranging from pre-K to 88 years of age. The workshops normally accommodate 20-50 kids during a session.

As our pleasantries were drawing to a close, Barnes was asked what he would like historians to note fifty years from now when they unearthed information about him. “I'm so glad Jon Barnes was able to see outside himself, and help others to develop business models and education curricula”.

Barnes played the music for the unveiling of the Miles Davis stamp in April 2012. He enjoys family jam sessions and teaching music to his grandkids in addition to time on the road or in the studio.

Written by: Precinct Reporter Group

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