The Valley Jazz Cooperative is an educational initiative of MSW Ministries. Founded and led by Russell Schmidt, the VJC offers encouraging, respectful, values-based instruction to committed, passionate, creative young people. VJC instruction often focuses on developing two elements of longstanding importance to Music Serving the Word: educational outreach and improvised arts.

FALL 2020 UPDATE: Out of an abundance of caution, our conventional roster of programs such as the East Valley Jazz Cooperative, West Valley Jazz Cooperative, and VJC Hangs (meaning the in-person Hangs) will not be meeting during the pandemic. However, the VJC continues to move forward with an exciting roster of VJC Online offerings, including Virtual Ensembles and Special Topics classes.

The VJC has been active throughout metropolitan Phoenix since 2016, when the East Valley Jazz Cooperative began its partnership with Mesa Community College. A year later, the West Valley Jazz Cooperative launched, hosted by Glendale Community College​. Both programs have featured wonderfully talented high school and junior high school musicians, individuals committed to developing their technical skills while also exploring their innate creativity. Through ensemble rehearsals and VJC Hangs, program participants have also received valuable instruction on various, related topics, including theory, improvisation, and jazz history.


Our overarching, dual goal for VJC students is that they develop their artistic talents in ways that are tangible and meaningful, then go back into their own communities (churches, schools, arts festivals, etc.) to share their gifts with others. We hope to have the EVJC & WVJC back meeting together, live and in-person, in 2021.

But in the meantime, the Valley Jazz Cooperative still has a robust line-up of online offerings for Phoenix-area participants and (given the opportunities afforded us through Zoom) for students from anywhere in the country. These opportunities include:

VJC Online – The VJC is offering four Virtual Ensembles online this fall, as well as two Special Topics classes for interested students. The ensembles range from combo to big band; the two subjects being taught are Jazz Theory & Improvisation and Survey of Jazz Styles.

Lessons & Workshops – Valley Jazz Cooperative faculty and clinicians (including a number of out-of-state guest artists) have been offering private instruction to VJC participants since the beginning of the pandemic. We will continue to work with area students and educators to explore online lesson and group instruction opportunities for school band programs, church music groups, and other interested parties.

VJC Instrument Rental Assistance – The VJC Instrument Rental Assistance program has been created to make band and string orchestra instruments available to new music students with financial need during the 2020-2021 academic year. The pandemic has created many unique challenges for instrumental music programs, prospective new music students, and their parents. This program has been designed to allow more young people to begin their journey in music.

VJC Scholarship Program – The VJC Scholarship Program is awarded annually to a trio of outstanding high school seniors, in support of their post-secondary education. Scholarship recipients are talented young musicians, with emphasis given to individuals who have made meaningful contributions to their communities through service to others.

Service – The Valley Jazz Cooperative is always interested in exploring and developing collaborative projects with others as a means of enriching the lives of those in our own communities, whether it be through a benefit concert, educational event, coordinated school service project, or other venture.

© 2021 by Valley Jazz Cooperative
The Valley Jazz Cooperative is an outreach of
MSWMinistries, a 501(c)(3) organization