Giant Steps Big Bands: The perfect place for trumpet and trombone players this Fall!

Audition for SJW’s after-school jazz programs

Auditions begin this weekend for our Fall Giant Steps Big Band programs and Miles Ahead band programs! If you know a young musician in middle school or high school who would like to play jazz and learn to improvise after-school with some of the best young musicians in the community, please let them know about these fantastic programs.

Auditions will be held at Braun Music Center at Stanford University on the following dates and times:

Saturday, August 17, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, August 18, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday, August 24, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday, August 25, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you can’t schedule an audition during the above times, you may submit an online audition.

Instructions and audition materials are available now!







Miles Ahead Combo — a gigging machine!


SJW’s Miles Ahead Combo is having a busy spring. The combo, which is directed by SJW faculty artist Raffi Garabedian, is made up of musicians from seven different schools — hence the “conglomerate” label by which many after-school ensembles are known at jazz festivals.

This past Saturday, March 10, the band needed no label other than “burning” as they played at the 7 Mile House Jazz Festival, along with many other terrific jazz artists, such as SJW faculty artists Kris Strom and Scott Sorkin, as well as Curt Moore, Murray Low, Dave Bendigkeit, Anton Schwartz, Frank Tusa, Jeff Cressman, Calvin Keys, Deszon Claiborne, Wally Schnalle, John Gove, Jeff Denson, Al Molina, Peter Barshay, Vince Lateoano, Glen Pearson, Ray Obiedo, and others — the lineup was a veritable Who’s Who of the Bay Area jazz world!

KCSM DJ Alisa Clancy shared emcee duties, and had the honor of introducing the group to the packed house. The combo — normally a septet with a full frontline of horns — was a quintet for Saturday’s show, consisting of Eric Mayerhofer from Carlmont High in Belmont on alto, Ben Redlawsk on bass from Sequoia High in Redwood City, drummer Roni Herschmann from Palo Alto’s Henry M. Gunn High, guitarist/composer Grant Grech who attends Junipero Serra High in San Mateo, and Keshav Balaji on piano, from Valley Christian High in San Jose. Not seen onstage due to school performance obligations were tenor saxophonist Myrsani San Marchi from Amador Valley High and trombonist Donovan Warren from Stuart Hall High in San Francisco.

This cosmopolitan combo appears next at the following events:

  • Saturday, April 28: Mountain View High School Jazz Festival, 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, May, 6: Performing with the Miles Ahead Big Band and SJW Alumni Big Band, Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford University, 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 27: Opening for Erik Jekabsen’s Electric Squeezebox Orchestra at the California Jazz Conservatory

For more information about the Miles Ahead program, which is open to all music students who are concurrently enrolled in the school music program, click here.

To see the schedule of great jazz at the 7 Mile House, click here.

Thanks to Jessica Levant for the great photo!

Schedule your audition for the SJW Giant Steps Big Band now

Thanks to your support, last year’s Giant Steps Big Band for Middle School was a huge success, so much so that this Fall we’re offering two after-school big bands.

Giant Steps Big Band North will rehearse Wednesdays at Carlmont High School, and will be directed by Mike Galisatus, of the College of San Mateo.

Giant Steps Big Band South will rehearse Tuesdays at The Harker School in Santa Clara, and will be directed by Dave Gregoric.

As with last year’s successful band, the program is in a big band format, and its focus is on developing improvisations skills, mastering jazz styles and articulations, and instilling good practice discipline.

We’ll hold auditions in two weeks for the program at Stanford University on September 6 and 7, and the weekly rehearsals will begin on September 23 at The Harker School, and September 24 at Carlmont High.

For more information, click here.

To schedule an audition, write or call 650-736-0324.

Jazz Camp Week 2 Showcase schedule and other info

Tonight’s the night! The Jazz Camp Week 3 Showcase will feature nearly 200 rising stars of jazz performing on four stages. How do you find out who is performing on which stage at which time? Download the Jazz Camp Showcase schedule here, then read below to find out how to interpret the schedule.
Here’s how the schedule is organized:
  • Jazz Camp participants are listed alphabetically by last name
  • The center column indicates combos that rehearse in the early afternoon, which are known as “early combos”
  • The right column indicates combos that rehearse in the late afternoon, which are known as “late combos”
  • Vocalists will perform in Braun Rehearsal Hall, Room 110, and their performance order is indicated in the center column
The numbers indicate the order in which the combos perform on a particular stage:
  • If your combo or vocalist is indicated as “05”, that means they will be the fifth to perform.
  • Performances begin at 7 p.m. on Dinkelspiel, Campbell, and Braun Rehearsal Hall; performances on the Outdoor Stage begin at 6 p.m.
  • Each performance takes approximately 12 – 15 minutes, so a combo slated to perform fifth on the Dinkelspiel stage would begin at between 8 and 8:15 p.m.
  • A combo slated to perform eighth (08) on the Outdoor stage would begin at between 7: 30 and 7:45  p.m.
  • Vocal performances take approximately 5 minutes, so a vocalist slated to perform fourth in Braun Rehearsal Hall, Room 110, would begin at approximately 7:15.
Friends and Family Dinner
If you’re purchased tickets for the Friends and Family Dinner, you can pick them up in front of Tresidder Union, directly across from Dinkelspiel Auditorium, at 5:30 p.m.
New this year: Combo photos
Following each combo’s performance, the performers will proceed to our new Photo Station next to Dinkelspiel Auditorium to have a band portrait taken. Photo prints and downloads will be available for sale online following the Showcase.

Master percussionist Tupac Mantilla launches new World Percussion program at Jazz Institute

World percussionist Tupac Mantilla returns to the 2014 SJW Jazz Institute to launch the new World Percussion @ SJW program, an intensive week of percussion study for all musicians interested in making music with drums, hand percussion, mallet instruments, body percussion, and found instruments. In collaboration with Tupac’s percussion organization Percuaction, we’re excited to present a program of world percussion study from the Global Rhythm Institute, which draws on rhythmic traditions from music cultures around the world. Tupac’s curriculum includes classes such as “The African Connection,” “Introduction to Body Percussion,” “A Western Approach to Indian Rhythmic Concepts,” “Latin Percussion,” and “A Choreographic Approach to Rhythm,” among many other topics. In addition to participating in hands-on classes focused on particular styles, you’ll get instruction on a wide variety of instruments, including cajon, djembe, shekere, bongos, congas, bells, shakers, and more. Increase your rhythmic vocabulary and ensemble skills in daily percussion ensemble rehearsals, and show the world your new cross-cultural percussive styles on the main stage at the Jazz Institute Showcase.

Tupac Mantilla has dedicated his life to exploring global rhythms, and he performs with top artists around the world, including Bobby McFerrin, Zakir Hussain, Danilo Perez, Kenny Werner, John Pattitucci, Savion Glover, Steve Smith, John Medeski, Cecil McBee, Jamey Haddad, Julian Lage, and many others. He is the founder and director of the global percussion network Percuaction and has developed with a global team of percussionists the curriculum for Percuaction’s Global Rhythm Institute. Click here to view Tupac’s faculty profile.

No audition is necessary to enroll in World Percussion @ SJW; the program is open to all musicians age 18 or older who have had at least one year of musical instruction. Musicians aged 17 and under may apply but must submit a brief essay describing their musical background and why they want to participate in the World Percussion program.

To enroll, just select “percussion” as your instrument on the registration page of the SJW Jazz Institute.

Register now for our adult jazz programs

Get that horn out of the closet, dust off your jazz guitar, and sign up for one (or more!) of our Evening Jazz Classes. These classes are sure to take your jazz chops to the next level, whether you’ve been playing over chord changes for years or if you’re a classical musician interested in improvising. All skill levels are welcome. Click here for more information.

  • The Guided Jam is a fun evening jam program tailored to adults. Taught by experienced SJW faculty members, this program is perfect for musicians looking to fill in their theory knowledge and apply it in real time. Students will learn and jam on common jazz standards that will offer dozens of approaches to improvisation. Participants will also engage in daily practice and evaluation via the groundbreaking computer program MakeMusic SmartMusic®. Have fun meeting other jazz-minded local adults while you improve your jazz skills.
  • Jazz Theory is a class taught by SJW faculty member Richard Sears. It is ideal for those with little knowledge of jazz theory or who may need a refresher course. Richard will give you the theoretical foundation that you need to build the best solo possible. Easily taken in conjunction with The Guided Jam.
  • Beginning and intermediate pianists will enjoy Jazz Piano with Richard Sears. Taught in a group setting, all pianists will get invaluable experience as they begin their jazz journey. Classical pianists looking to transition to jazz are strongly encouraged. Students will learn jazz standards and the fundamentals of jazz theory as they improve their improvisation skills.


For a more immersive jazz experience adults may register for the Jazz Institute, a weeklong summer intensive. Students will receive personalized instrument-specific instruction and improvisation coaching from the Jazz Institute’s impressive faculty roster. This summer’s Jazz Institute features such legendary faculty members as:

…and many more! Click here for a complete list of faculty.

The Jazz Institute is ideal for anyone who is looking to hone their improvisation skills, whether they are a professional musician or a newcomer to jazz, in an immersive, supportive environment. Students will participate in daily combo rehearsals so each musician will have plenty of time to improvise and receive coaching. Play and learn with other adults while you have the time of your life! Click here for more information about Jazz Institute.

Jazz Camp financial aid deadline looming: March 24

Financial aid is still available for youth aged 17 and under for Jazz Day Camp, Jazz Camp, and Jazz Institute. In 2013, we distributed over $100,000 in financial aid for underserved youth, which enabled nearly 100 deserving and talented young jazz musicians to immerse themselves in the study of jazz with some of the leading artists in the world. The deadline is March 24, and there are several items that must be prepared prior to that. The time to act is now; here’s what you have to do:
  • Parent or legal guardian should create an SJW account online; click here to go to the account setup page.
  • Register for the program you wish to attend.
  • Select the financial aid option you wish.
  • Submit a $25 non-refundable application fee and a deposit of $100. The deposit will be refunded if the student is unable to attend due to not receiving sufficient financial assistance.
Once your registration is processed, we’ll follow up with a confirmation email that includes a supplement that must be completed and returned by March 24. The supplement will include the following, but feel free to get a head start by downloading and completing these tasks if you can:
  • Student essay: Download a Word document template here.
  • Letter of recommendation from your music instructor: Download a Word document template here.
  • Proof of current financial situation; to be completed by the parent. When you submit the financial aid supplement, we ask you to include a copy of the first page of your most recent 1040 Federal Tax return, along with W2s, 1099s and/or other relevant documentation and information. You may write us a letter explaining your financial situation if you do not have access to these materials or if you feel they do not reflect your current situation.
All financial aid applications and all supplemental materials must be received by March 24, 2014. Click here for more information.

Jazz strings this summer at SJW

This summer at the Stanford Jazz Workshop we’re pleased to offer a fantastic opportunity for string players of all ages to study jazz in a friendly and stimulating environment on the Stanford University campus. SJW specializes in helping classically-trained musicians learn the creative art of improvisation through small ensemble performance, jazz theory instruction, master classes, and more.

Financial aid is available for students aged 17 and under. Please have your students apply soon, though, as the deadline for financial aid applications is March 24, 2014. For more information on financial aid, click here.

For middle school students, our Jazz Day Camp begins on Monday, July 14, runs through Friday, July 18, and features Grammy-winning jazz violinist Mads Tolling as our string program director.  This program has no on-campus overnight accommodations; it’s a day camp only. Click here for more information.

High school students and advanced middle schoolers can attend either or both weeks of Jazz Camp (July 20-25 and July 27 – August 1), where acclaimed performer and educator Victor Lin directs the string program in a fun, supportive environment. Students reside in convenient Stanford University dorm housing and attend the nightly performances at the Stanford Jazz Festival.  Click here for more information.

For college students, music educators, adult amateurs, and professionals, the Jazz Institute (August 3 – August 8) provides an immersive experience in which string players can learn from both Mads Tolling and Victor Lin, while also studying with other great artists such as Larry Grenadier, Fred Hersch, George Cables, Chick Corea, Mark Turner, Jeff Ballard, and many more. This program is open to advanced high school musicians aged 17 or under by audition only.  Click here for more information.

New after-school program for middle schoolers in Belmont

We’re very excited to announce the launch of a new after-school program for middle school musicians: the SJW Giant Steps Middle School Band.

Directed by Dave Gregoric, and assisted by Steven Lugerner, David Hart, and Joshua Thurston-Milgrom, this fun big band focuses on developing improvisational skills, mastering jazz styles and articulations, and instilling good practice discipline.

Enrollment is open by audition only to any middle school musician currently enrolled in the music program at their school, within driving distance of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Click here for the details of the program.