Through its performing ensembles, supported by guest artist clinics, online instruction, and other educational opportunities, the Valley Jazz Cooperative offers music students a uniquely valuable experience. While the combo and big band programs are a focal point for VJC instruction, the principle goal is to help each participant explore and develop their awesome potential as creative beings through the medium of jazz.


In its first few years of existence, the VJC has diversified into other areas that are adjacent to its principal focus: the education of young musicians. For instance, the VJC supports outstanding program alums through its college scholarship program. The VJC Q&T podcast offers valuable insights from leading artist-teachers, as well as other creatives. VJC Publications continues to grow as a music publisher, providing jazz educators and performers with access to exceptional selections, including some wonderful examples of sacred jazz. And there are other resources, such as free educational downloads, a YouTube channel with tutorials and ensemble performances (both live and virtual), the VJC Facebook page with extensive photo galleries, and an online store offering apparel and more.

VJC programs are offered free of charge to eligible, committed, passionate music students (in grades 8-12). Most in-person VJC activities in 2021-22 will take place in Ravenscroft, a premier music performance venue in Scottsdale. Learn more about our VJC programs (and how to apply/audition) below.

Explore your gifts. Find your passion.
Program Status

The Valley Jazz Cooperative returned with in-person programs in mid-December, offered free of charge and open to students in grades 8 thru 12 (following a placement audition). The VJC has taken up residence in Ravenscroft, a new performing arts facility in Scottsdale. CLICK HERE to learn more about the latest ensemble offerings and to find an online application form.

Audition Information

All audition dates for the current VJC term have now passed. However, a few ensemble openings remain (for which late applications will be ac-cepted). The Tuesday big band can still use one trumpeter. The Thursday's group (an octet) can still use one drummer and one comper, either a guitarist or a pianist. Contact Russell Schmidt for the most up-to-date info.

VJC on Facebook
VJC Q&T Podcast

A Statement from Russell Schmidt, Director

As one who truly loves teaching, I feel privileged to serve young people, offering them guidance and instruction as they develop their limitless potential as artistic, creative souls in the Valley Jazz Cooperative. When we first launched the VJC, I noted the word “cooperative” was chosen with great intent, after much deliberation. One of our foundational goals is to serve young people in ways that support the outstanding instruction already being offered in so many different corners of Phoenix. We are grateful for the collaborative support of band directors, private music instructors, and (of course) parents, for helping us build a musical and educational community in the VJC that will provide a positive impact in the lives of these students for years to come.


The VJC is resuming in-person instruction this year after about 20 months spent engaged in other, meaningful endeavors, such as the highly successful VJC Instrument Rental Assistance program and VJC Online instruction (including virtual ensemble activities). Throughout this time, I have remained deeply grateful to my Music Serving the Word family for their faith in the VJC. This wonderfully vibrant educational initiative would not exist without MSW support.


Similarly, I remain thankful to Paul Brewer (MCC) and Dave Schmidt (GCC) for their initial partnerships in hosting the fledgling VJC. Their support allowed this program to grow exponentially in a very short period of time. While the majority of future in-person VJC activities will be centered in Scottsdale's Ravenscroft, I remain  grateful to Paul and Dave for the fantastic years we've had with the EVJC in Mesa and the WVJC in Glendale. Thank you, friends!


Finally, to prospective students, I want you to know the VJC is an exceptional place to explore your gifts and find your passion. We sincerely hope you will explore joining our program in 2021 and beyond!

Russell Schmidt — ​Director, Valley Jazz Cooperative