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Jazz Groups for adults ages 18 +

Whatever your age or experience, you can join a jazz band at Jazz Workshop Australia. You’ll get structured coaching in small ensemble performing techniques, jazz improvisation, and theory. You’ll also get regular practice playing in a group at weekly rehearsals as well as the chance to perform at least once each semester in our combos showcases. You can expect good teaching, effective learning and progress (subject, of course, to the effort you put in), good company, and fun.

Combos are small improvising jazz groups (up to 8 members) not big bands. Think Miles Davis Quintet (click for video), Sandy Evans Trio, Charlie Parker, or Bireli Lagrene Quartet. Big band is a very different thing. Some examples include the Count Basie Orchestra, Duke Ellington, or Benny Goodman Orchestra. Many big bands are called “orchestra” because they play orchestrations, just like a classical ensemble. If you want to be a strong big band player or an improvising soloist, then learning to play and improvise in small combos is the way to go, just like the stars of these examples.

Combos at JWA are much more than just a weekly jam session. We teach you and give useful, genuine feedback to help you progress. This is just one of the things that sets our approach apart and ahead of other offerings that seem, on the surface, to be similar. At JWA teaching, learning, and knowledge-building are integral to our method.

We have a selection of jazz combos for adults (18+) catering to every level and welcoming players of all instruments. Our team of teachers include Gavin Ahearn, Deven Rahman, Michelle Shih, Saul Richardson, and other Special Guest tutors.

CLICK HERE to Join now, or read on for more details

Introductory combos for adults

Introductory adult combos are for people aged 18+ who can already play a musical instrument and are ready to start learning how to play jazz in a band. You can expect to learn how to play in a jazz combo, gain a practical ability to improvise at a basic level in the most common and important contexts, and gain the skill and confidence to get you off to a solid start on your jazz-playing journey. 

Adult intermediate combos

The intermediate adult combos are for players aged 18+ who already have at least some background in playing improvisational jazz. The focus of these groups is mostly on playing, but of course includes coaching in both improvisation and small-group playing techniques as well. This is an ongoing rehearsal group meeting throughout each Semester. Entry to these groups is by audition/asessment so we can place you in the best group for your current level and needs. This can be done in-person, online, or by video/audio recording. There is a selection of intermediate groups at different levels.

Adult advanced combos

The advanced combos for adults at Jazz Workshop Australia are for players 18+ with a strong background in playing small-group jazz and improvising. Members are probably playing at jam sessions and even gigging. These groups are for regular training, coaching, mentorship, motivation, and group practice. The advanced combos are a great place to try out new techniques or ideas in a safe place (not on stage!) with an expert coach on hand to give useful feedback. 

Some students also use our advanced combos to fulfil the performing ensemble requirements of online tertiary music courses.

The focus of these groups is on playing, but with coaching and mentorship. Expect to play challenging repertoire, deep study and memorisation of standard tunes, and a wide variety of playing and improvising techniques. The standard in the advanced groups is high and entry is by audition/assessment to ensure that they are the best place for you at your current practical level.

General information about the adult combos

  • Time: Weekday evenings. 
  • Tutors: Gavin Ahearn, Deven Rahman, Saul Richardson, & guests
  • Rehearsals: 18 rehearsals /semester.
  • Cost: $825/semester (two terms). This is a membership fee, not a per-lesson price. Some combos, such as Gavin Ahearn’s advanced group, cost more as the session times are longer.

The adult combos are for anyone over 18 who wants to learn how play in a jazz band, or further develop their skills, under the guidance of an expert jazz player and educator. As you play jazz standards you will learn about style, small ensemble playing, and improve your skills as an improviser.

A jazz combo is a small band, of up to ten musicians. It is really a flexible “combination” of instruments. Combo gives you the chance to apply and put into practice the work and theory you learn with your teacher, and really give your playing a boost. This is an excellent way to dramatically improve your skills on your instrument, and to boost your self-confidence.

At Jazz Workshop Australia we understand jazz playing to be based on skills, techniques, procedures, and other knowledge. Learn the material we teach, practice the skills, put in a reasonable effort, and anyone can learn to play jazz. We absolutely reject myths such as “you’ve either got it, or you don’t” and other marketing fantasies that jazz musicians and fans are fond of. We invite you into the secret world of teaching and learning that has always been the reality for professional jazz players, including the greats. You can read more about this in Dr Saul Richardson’s very exciting PhD thesis on Teaching Jazz.

Places in each group are limited to 8 or fewer members.

The fee is for membership, not a per-class payment. Unlike private lessons, there are no make-ups if you miss a session. Occasionally it might be possible to sit in another group for a week or two, but they are all working on their own programs and are balanced so sit-ins can be disruptive. 

Our promises for progress and learning are, of course, based on you practicing. The more effort you put int, the more you’ll get from the classes and the faster you will progress.

Contacts us now for more info on Adult Combo.