Jazz music lessons in Sydney - collage of scenes

JWA jazz combo at a performance

Jazz combos  are small-group band lessons that teach jazz improvisation and small-ensemble playing techniques in a friendly, nurturing, and welcoming environment. Students learn as they play real jazz music in a band. Junior and introductory groups are suitable for people who haven’t played in a jazz ensemble or improvised before. Advanced and intermediate groups extend and challenge more experienced jazz students. Little Jazzers, for our very youngest students, uses fun musical and movement activities to help kids build fundamental rhythm and melodic skills in a group. Rehearsals for the older combos include learning and playing music plus structured coaching in jazz improvisation and performance. These are more than just jam sessions: they are an organised educational program designed to build essential jazz knowledge, techniques, skills, dispositions, and means of self-expression.

The JWA jazz combos can be a transformative experience, giving new musical insights, building self-confidence and musical control. Join a combo and learn jazz today.

What are ‘jazz combos’?

A jazz combo is a small band, of up to ten musicians. It is really a flexible “combination” of instruments.  Think Miles Davis Quintet (click for video)Sandy Evans TrioCharlie Parker, or Bireli Lagrene Quartet. Most ‘real world’ jazz bands are combos. They are not the same thing as ‘big band’ (aka jazz orchestra, stage band). Those are like orchestras or concert bands but playing jazzy-sounding music and the emphasis is overwhelmingly on reading music, not improvising or interacting creatively. Jazz combo is a different beast altogether and opens the door to real jazz playing, deep musical skill, and rich understanding.

There are groups for all ages and levels, on Saturdays and mid-week.

Places are usually limited to eight people per band. Jazz combos can involve any “combination” of instruments, there are no set parts. All combos besides the introductory adult course are by audition/assessment to ensure students are placed in the right group for them.

For all combos the fee is $825/ semester (18 sessions plus concert).

JWA Jazz Combo schedules

We have many groups for every level and age-group (including adults). We assign students to the best groups for them. Most of our combos for young people rehearse on Saturday with some during the week too. 18+ groups are usually all midweek. Contact us for more information. Once we know your child’s current level, usually trough a short in-person consultation, we’ll reccommend the best group options for them.

Monday:Young adults (intermediate +)Young adults 18 - 30 ish.
Tuesday:Intermediate & less experiencedadults 18+
Intermediate & advancedadults 18+
Introductory-intermediateAdults, 18+
AdvancedAdults 18+
Advancedyoung adults 18 - 30ish
Saturday:Very advancedteens - young adult
Intermediatekids & young teens
Advancedyoung teens
Intermediate -advancedkids & teens
Little JazzersYoung kids ages 3-7
Intermediate/advancedyoung teens
Beginner/novicekids & young teens

The groups are led by JWA principal Dr Saul Richardson, Gavin Ahearn, Deven Rahman, Jack Stoneham, and Ragan Kang. We also have occasional special guest tutors. Contact us now to enrol.

What are the benefits of playing in a jazz combo?

The JWA combos are for students to learn and develop their playing in a small jazz ensemble, and improvising in a jazz idiom. It is also fun and quite different from normal school band. Here are some of the things playing in a combo helps:

  • Jazz improvisation, become a fluent player
  • gain confidence in music and beyond
  • sophisticated ensemble skills
  • learn how to play in a small group
  • develop initiative & leadership
  • fundamental & advanced performance skills
  • gain self – confidence
  • dramatically improve instrumental technique
  • teamwork
  • become a musical leader in school & other ensembles
  • deep understanding of jazz theory
  • appreciation of jazz history and styles
  • sophisticated, practical aural skills and awareness
  • enjoy playing music!

Combos give 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.

Just as the kids who do swimming squad or little athletics always seem to win the races at school, kids who take combo and/or improvisations lessons tend to become the “star” jazz players at school, or just enjoy music more!