it’s been a while since we got a chance to post anything here, so a quick update is probably in order.
At the end of 2015 six students from our program got full-time places in the very competitive jazz course at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (University of Sydney) with a seventh getting into the big band there.
Three of our private students got in on saxophone, drums, and bass, some of the most competitive instruments. They were students of Jeremy Rose, Jamie Cameron, and Saul Richardson. Another three of our students from our combo and big band program also got in. A fifth student of ours, who studies a non-music subject at the university and plays in combo and big band was accepted into the Conservatorium big band. Another former student who finished in our program at the end of 2014, was also offered places in both the Sydney Conservatorium and the Victorian College of Arts, choosing eventually to go to Melbourne for his tertiary jazz studies.
Our small cohort of HSC music students were getting top marks in school assessment performances and most got band 6 (the top level) in HSC music. The one who didn’t was nominated for the HSC Encore program, which is basically a citation for outstanding performance in the practical performance part of HSC music.
As well as all that we had 8 combos in our program with students aged from 7 years up to musicians of ‘mature’ years, all learning and playing jazz, from beginners through outstanding young emerging professionals. We also had seven music teachers giving private lessons to a wonderful cohort of dedicated students. Between them they teach trumpet, trombone, saxophone, clarinet, flute, guitar, bass, drums, and piano. Most of our students focus on jazz, but not all by any means. Plenty go through AMEB and other exams.
One of our teachers, Evan Harris, left to do postgraduate study at the famous Julliard School on New York. Another former teacher (and student!) Richard Savery received the Game Audio Network Guild: Distinguished Service Award (2015) in the USA. Richard has completed is Masters at University of Southern California (Irvine) in computer music and is now a rising star among computer game music composers.
Our annual Summer Jazz Camp in January was a great success, as usual. 80 students aged 10 to 22 came from all over Australia to spend a week playing and learning about jazz at The Collaroy Centre on Sydney’s northern beaches. They were taught by a faculty that included John Morrison, Peter Farrar, Graeme Lyall, Jacki Cooper, Libor Smoldas, Rod Herbert, Maddie Shearer, Eric Dunan, Geoffroy Colson, and Graeme Lyall. The January 2016 camp involved students from New South Wales, ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory.
We continue to host and sponsor the Sydney Youth Jazz Orchestras. We provide full tuition scholarships to every member of both big bands: SYJO and SYJO2 each year. The highlight of 2015, as for each year, was a mini-tour to the Merimbula Jazz Festival as well as local performances including Jazz at The Pines in Dural.
The idea of an international tour for SYJO was floated, but it turned out not to be feasible. It was just too expensive for most members of the SYJO bands, many of who are university students.
2015 was a good year, and 2016 is too! There are some really exciting very young jazz players coming through as well as a cohort of older high school students who will be auditioning for university jazz courses and starting professional playing over the next year.
There really is nothing else like this, certainly in Sydney, and probably anywhere in Australia: in our school, anybody who wants to participate can. We work with whoever comes to help them improve and to achieve whatever their jazz goals are.
Our main focus is, of course, on jazz. It isn’t an afterthought or an add-on in service of a concert band, or an “extension activity”, it is the main thing we do. Our students certainly have a good time, but our focus is on building knowledge and skills, not simply unfocused ‘jamming’. We teach people, and we are really proud of the results. We are also completely unfunded and not subsidized by any tax dollars. We are a jazz enterprise that is viable without handouts or having to dumb things down. We are proud of that too!
Thanks to all our students for being part of our unique program here at Jazz Workshop Australia. We always welcome new students into our community so if you’re not part of it yet, why not get in touch?