Students at Jazz Workshop Australia can sit for exams on any instrument through the JWA Exam System. Many of our teachers will also teach traditional exam syllabuses like AMEB, ABRSM, or Trinity on request.


The Jazz Workshop Australia assessment system has been developed in response to a growing demand for structured, serious and rigorous examinations in jazz performance. They are written with two main objectives in mind. Firstly to focus on the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to actually play jazz music as a serious, improvising musician. The second objective is to allow enormous scope for flexibility so as to reflect the unique needs and interests of each individual student.

The system is split into two main sections: three Preliminary levels and four Higher levels called Intermediate 1 & 2, and Advanced 1 & 2. The Preliminary levels are based around jazz pieces commonly played by young and beginning jazz musicians. The scales and other technical work come directly from the music. They are exactly the things a musician needs to be able to do in order to play and improvise around these common “beginners” tunes. The song lists for the Preliminary levels are simply a large selection of these tunes.

The higher levels, Intermediate and Advanced, have no set repertoire but do include increasingly challenging technical requirements. Again, these requirements simply reflect the things a developing jazz musician needs to be able to do in order to play the music effectively and musically.

This entire syllabus has been developed through extensive research over many years into jazz teaching and learning, effective instrumental pedagogy and the musical knowledge and characteristics of the most successful jazz students and performers. None of the levels is easy, and none is patronizing towards either the music or the musicians. Success in these exams reflects a true indication of musical achievement.

Assessment Format & Equipment

Assessments are conducted by at least two qualified jazz educators with extensive experience as improvising jazz performers and teachers.

At the Preliminary levels students can use recorded backing tracks or live accompaniment for their prepared pieces. The live accompaniment can be provided by one of the assessors, or the student can bring their own accompanist. At the Intermediate levels all accompaniment must be a live band. Again, students can bring their own or arrange to play with the house rhythm section.

At the advanced levels the performance is done as a recital with a separate exam for technical work, aural, general knowledge. Recitals are open to the public.

The following equipment will be available for students to use: Drum kit including cymbals (2x ride, 1x crash, hi hats); Bass amp; guitar amp; acoustic upright piano; electric stage piano; music stands. Of course, students are welcome to bring their own.

Exam Fees

Any student sitting for the exams will need to buy a copy of the syllabus: $5

  • Preliminary Level exams: $116
  • Intermediate Level exams: $188
  • Advanced Level exams: $220

Exam fees are to be paid when booking an assessment time.

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