VJC ONLINE
Program Offerings & Application Form

 

NOTE: THE APPLICATION WINDOW REMAINS OPEN FOR SPECIAL TOPICS CLASSES, BUT IS NOW CLOSED FOR VIRTUAL ENSEMBLES WITH THE EXCEPTION OF PIANO AND TROMBONE OPENINGS THAT REMAIN IN THE INDIGO BIG BAND ONLINE.

In response to the various challenges presented by the pandemic, the Valley Jazz Cooperative is pivoting toward additional online instruction through Zoom for the remainder of 2020. While we have been using Zoom for private lessons and VJC Hangs for months, we’re now adding virtual ensembles and more for Fall 2020.

 

VJC Online instruction will include four Virtual Ensemble opportunities, as well as two VJC Special Topics that will focus on subjects vital for the continued development of young jazz musicians. These programs are currently slated to run through the end of the year.

 

Interested students may enroll throughout the month of August. Please note that participants need not be from Phoenix-area schools. While living in and around Maricopa County was never actually a VJC requirement, participation in ensembles was only practical for students from the area. So it is worth mentioning that a student can be joining our VJC Online programs from just about anywhere through Zoom.

 

In order to successfully participate in VJC Virtual Ensembles, students must:

• be able to read music and rehearse their parts individually,

• be able to play with (and hold to) a metronome,

• have access to a printer or tablet/monitor (to print or view ensemble music),

• have access to a smartphone with which they can record themselves (audio and video),

• have a quiet location in which they can record occasionally,

• have access to headphones, and

• have access to a tuner or tuning app.

After reading through the offerings below, please apply online at the bottom of this page. Under the current circumstances, auditions will not be necessary for most returning VJC students. Applicants who are new to the VJC will be contacted (after a completed application is received) to either: 

1) schedule a brief, informal online audition, or

2) submit a video-recording as an audition.

Please note that we will not be using the VJC application packets this fall, so please don't feel any unnecessary pressure regarding the audition process; we will simply work together to find audition repertoire that each applicant feels comfortable with, music that effectively present their skills.

Also, while we will not be requiring a participation fee in Fall 2020, we are asking VJC applicants (or, more accurately, their parents/guardians) to make a charitable donation to one of our preferred partners during these difficult times. After applying for a Special Topics class, or being placed in a Virtual Ensemble, please click here to learn more about that request.

Finally, in response to questions from a recent applicant, we want to clarify a few points:

1) Grade 8-12 students are welcome to apply to as many as three Virtual Ensembles. (As stated below, The Senior Project is only for Class of 2020 VJC alums.) Please note that if the level of student interest exceeds the (instrumentation-based) space available, then we may need to distribute applicants to different ensembles in a manner that best completes the groups while also serving as many students as possible.

2) Grade 8-12 students are welcome to apply to one or both of the Special Topics classes. These will be separate courses with very little overlap in content.

3) If you are interested in either or both of the Special Topics classes, but think you may not be available during their proposed meeting times, go ahead and apply to them anyway. Make sure to mention your potential conflict(s) in the Additional Comments portion of the application form. If we have enough interest from students with potential conflicts—and right now, we understand it is difficult for many students to gauge what the future holds on Saturdays this fall—we may either add a second section to a class or explore moving the proposed schedule to a meeting time convenient for all participants.

Here are the Fall 2020 VJC Online offerings:

VJC VIRTUAL ENSEMBLES

 

Contrafaction (will begin on or around 09/01/2020)

In jazz, the term contrafact describes a composition featuring a new melody placed atop the chord changes of a previously published/recorded piece. One example quite familiar to jazz fans is Charlie Parker’s Donna Lee, with a “new” melody written to work with the harmonic progression to the old Tin Pan Alley classic (Back Home Again In) Indiana.

 

For the VJC, Contrafaction will record and release videos of student combos performing new, original tunes written on familiar chord progressions. Student input will be sought for Contrafaction programming, helping to determine the chord progressions that students will improvise over. The number of videos produced will depend in large part on the volume of student interest.

 

Eligibility: Student must be enrolled in grades 8–12 and play an instrument that functions conventionally in a jazz performance setting. Participants need to be available for occasional Saturday Zoom meetings (roughly every 2 or 3 weeks from late August through mid-December) to check in and update their progress on projects.

Indigo BBO (will begin on or around 09/01/2020)

As the flagship VJC ensemble for the past few years, the Indigo Big Band has delivered outstanding and memorable performances at the Highland/ASU Jazz Festival, MCC’s Performing Arts Center, the MIM, the Nash, and elsewhere in Phoenix.

 

Moving forward as a virtual ensemble for the remainder of 2020, the Indigo Big Band Online (a.k.a. Indigo BBO) will record and release a pair of videos of jazz ensemble charts before the end of the year. And the group may tackle an additional chart as well, should the first two pieces come together quickly.

 

Eligibility: Student must be enrolled in grades 8–12 and play saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, piano, bass, or drums. Participants need to be available for occasional Saturday Zoom meetings (roughly every 2 or 3 weeks from late August through mid-December) to check in and update their progress on projects.

Sacred Jazz Cooperative (will begin on or around 09/01/2020)

Rob Moore of MSW Ministries has been developing a new musical outreach in response to the pandemic. It is called the Amazing Grace Project and features fresh takes by a variety of artists on this much-beloved, 18th-Century hymn.

 

The Sacred Jazz Cooperative will record an arrangement of Amazing Grace by VJC Director Russell Schmidt, customized for whatever instrumentation the SJC turns out to have. Once again, this group may tackle an additional hymn or spiritual before the end of the year, should the video performance of the Amazing Grace arrangement come together swiftly.

 

Eligibility: Student must be enrolled in grades 8–12 and play an instrument that functions conventionally in a jazz performance setting. Participants need to be available for occasional Saturday Zoom meetings (roughly every 2 or 3 weeks from late August through mid-December) to check in and update their progress on projects.

The Senior Project (will begin on or around 09/01/2020)

Each year in May, the VJC honors graduating students with the Senior Showcase, a spotlight opportunity for select seniors to perform a combo piece with a professional rhythm section. But due to the pandemic, that privilege could not be afforded to our VJC Class of 2020 members.

 

So we’ll be pairing together various recently graduated students who performed with the VJC during 2019-20. They will record and release a video of an American songbook standard or original jazz classic of their choice with a professional rhythm section. We hope to have all videos for The Senior Project completed by the end of the year. And if we need to take the same approach with next year’s VJC seniors, we’ll tackle that early in 2021.

 

Eligibility: Student must be a former VJC member and a member of the (HS) Class of 2020. Participants need to be available for one or two periodic Zoom meetings to check in and update progress on their project.

VJC SPECIAL TOPICS

 

Survey of Jazz Styles (will begin on or around 09/12/2020, likely meeting on Saturday mornings)

The Survey of Jazz Styles class will meet once a week for 75 minutes. Tentative plans are to have this program meet on Saturday mornings; however, the availability of interested students will help set the exact schedule.

 

Each week in this special topics class, we will tackle the stylistic tendencies and performance practices of a different jazz subgenre. (Early Jazz/Trad Jazz in week one, Swing in week two, Bebop in week three, and so forth.) After about an hour of listening and discussion, we will leave fifteen minutes at the end of each session to discuss a relevant contemporaneous issue that might have impacted the music (and its innovators) at the time.

 

Eligibility: Student must be enrolled in grades 8–12 (or be program alums) and can commit to weekly attendance and participation through Zoom. No instrument required.

Jazz Theory & Improvisation (will begin on or around 09/12/2020, likely meeting on Saturday afternoons)

Also meeting once a week for 75 minutes during the fall, the Jazz Theory & Improvisation class is tentatively scheduled to meet on Saturday afternoons. As above, the availability of interested students will help lock in the final schedule.

 

In this special topics class, we will explore how one can become more spontaneously creative in jazz performance. Some of each session will be dedicated to gaining a better understanding of foundational jazz theory concepts; the remainder will afford students an opportunity to play and improvise (one at a time, accompanied by play-alongs) and to receive critique and encouragement. The overall focus will be on solo/melodic improvisation.

 

Eligibility: Student must be enrolled in grades 8–12 (or be program alums) and can commit to weekly attendance and participation through Zoom. Any instrument is eligible, though drummers should contact the VJC Director before enrolling to determine if this special topics class is right for them. Also, access to some playback software (i.e., an .mp3 player) is a necessity.

Again, apply below wherever you have both interest and eligibility. Then, after applying for a Special Topics class, or being placed in a Virtual Ensemble, please follow up here, making a charitable donation of any amount (if/as you are able) to one of the deserving partners listed. Thank you.

 
 

Interested in joining a VJC Online Virtual Ensemble or Special Topics class? Please fill out the application form below, confirming your interest and commitment to participate. Within a day or two of applying, you should receive an email response, providing pertinent follow-up information.

© 2020 by Valley Jazz Cooperative
The Valley Jazz Cooperative is an outreach of
MSWMinistries, a 501(c)(3) organization