VJC ONLINE VIRTUAL ENSEMBLES & CLASSES
Program Offerings & Application Form

 

NOTE: THE APPLICATION WINDOW HAS CLOSED FOR VIRTUAL ENSEMBLES AND SPECIAL TOPICS CLASSES. PLEASE CHECK BACK IN EARLY MAY 2021 FOR UPDATED INFORMATION REGARDING SPRING AND SUMMERTIME PLANS FOR THE VJC.

In response to the various challenges presented by the pandemic, the Valley Jazz Cooperative continues to pivot toward additional online instruction through Zoom for the remainder of the 2020-21 school year. While we had already been using Zoom for private lessons and VJC Hangs for months, we also added virtual ensembles and special topics classes in Fall 2020. (Those programs remain ongoing.) And in early 2021, we added online guest artist clinics as well. Learn more about those online clinic events by clicking here.

VJC Online instruction has included four Virtual Ensembles, as well as two Special Topics that have focused on subjects vital for the continued development of young jazz musicians. 

 

While the vast majority of VJC students continue to be from Phoenix-area schools, that has not been a requirement for participation in VJC Online activities. But there have been some requirements for successful participation. For VJC Virtual Ensembles, that has included the following:

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

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

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

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

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

• Students must have access to headphones, and

• Students must have access to a tuner or tuning app.

While we have not required any participation fee in 2020-21, we have asked VJC applicants (or, more accurately, their parents or guardians) to make a charitable donation to one of our preferred partners during these difficult times. Those who joined any of our Special Topics classes or were placed in any of our Virtual Ensembles were encouraged to learn more about that request here.

Here are the 2020-21 VJC Online virtual ensemble and special topics class offerings:

VJC VIRTUAL ENSEMBLES

 

Contrafaction

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 a pair of 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.

 

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 to check in and update their progress on projects.

Indigo BBO

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 2020-21 school year, the Indigo Big Band Online (a.k.a. Indigo BBO) will record and release three videos of jazz ensemble charts before the end of the school year. 

 

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 to check in and update their progress on projects.

Sacred Jazz Cooperative

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. This group will also tackle one additional piece before the end of the school year, likely with a more conventional instrumentation.

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 to check in and update their progress on projects.

The Senior Project

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. And it likely will not be possible for our VJC Class of 2021 members either.

 

So we’ll be pairing together some Class of 2020 (and possibly even Class of 2021) members with a professional rhythm section to record and release videos of American songbook standards or original jazz classics.

 

Eligibility: Student must be a past or current VJC member and a member of their high school's Class of 2020 (or 2021). 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

The Survey of Jazz Styles class will meet once a week for 75 minutes on Saturday mornings. Each week, 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.)

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

Also meeting once a week for 75 minutes, the Jazz Theory & Improvisation class is scheduled to meet on Saturday afternoons. In this 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.

 
 

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.

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