Areas of Study

The Vermont Jazz Center's Summer Workshop offers programs in

Instrumental Jazz

The Vermont Jazz Center Summer Workshop bridges so many gaps. From my own experience, as someone without a lot of knowledge of the traditions and techniques of jazz, I have been able to access the information and grow as a player. It is beneficial on so many levels and I am a better musician for it.
Sam King


Open to musicians of all instruments. This track emphasizes improvisation and small-ensemble playing.

Dan and Bill jammingParticipants receive well-rounded training that includes three levels of jazz general theory and one jazz composition. Faculty coached jazz combos rehearse daily to prepare for a final concert and nightly jam sessions ensure lots of playing time.

Each instrumentalist is matched with a mentor of the same or similar instrument (brass, woodwinds, piano, bass, guitar, violin) in small-sized master-classes that allow for personalized attention. Participants will learn:

  • Jazz theory and its application to improvisation- daily theory classes are tailored to inform each student depending on their individual level.
  • Application of Jazz Concepts onto their own instruments in Jazz Master-classes offered daily by mentors of their instrument.
  • Performance Skills by participating in daily faculty-coached ensembles that put theory into practice.
  • Aspects of the Jazz Life by participating in jam sessions, attending listening sessions and sharing experiences with other participants and Faculty who live on campus.

More About Jazz Theory Options

  • Beginning Theory is for those with less exposure to the foundations of music. Class participants will learn basic note reading, building simple chords and rhythm skills.
  • Basic Theory delves into key signatures, reading simple chords and understanding the relationship between chords and scales.
  • Intermediate Theory investigates chord extensions, modes of the major scales and alternate scale choices for more advanced chords.
  • Advanced Theory is designed for more experienced participants and is intentionally flexible to suit their needs. Often includes complex chord-scale relations, concepts in arranging and composition, harmonic analysis and reharmonization.

The Instrumental Program's Faculty include Freddie Bryant (guitar), Francisco Mela, Claire Arenius, Brian Adler (drums), Scott Mullett, Michael Zsoldos (saxophones),Cameron Brown, Marcus McLaurine, George Kaye (bass), Jeff Galindo (brass), Harvey Diamond, Ray Gallon, Eugene Uman (piano), and Julian Gerstin (percussion).

Vocal Jazz

Sheila Jordon, Jay Clayton Co-directors

Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton are true and generous artists and teachers. They create a safe place for artists to explore, make mistakes and discover their authentic selves.

As a student relatively new to jazz, I got everything I need, and so much more. This five-day immersion incorporates the essentials of music learning - from theoretical to playing.

B.D. Denhoff Dworkin, Workshop Participant, 2010

Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton, teachersSheila Jordan and Jay Clayton work as a team to create a warm environment where singers explore what it means to be a professional jazz vocalist.

Participants will learn:

  • How to interpret jazz standards in an authentic style
  • Transpose lead sheets
  • Work with a professional, jazz rhythm section
  • Develop their abilities in vocal improvisation

Other highlights for participants include a choice of jazz theory classes, jam sessions earmarked for singers and a final concert where each vocalist will sing with either an ensemble or a professional jazz trio.

Together they establish an environment where singers can explore and develop their own personal voices.

Evening Jams

Jam sessions are an integral part of jazz education and the evolution of the jazz experience. Every evening there are instrumental and vocal jam sessions that give students and faculty the opportunity to play together in an informal setting.

A feature of the VJC is that students and faculty come together and play music in a relaxed environment unfettered by class schedules.

Listening Hour

Each day, after lunch, a faculty member will present a selection of his or her favorite CDs, or will play live for the members of the workshop. He or she will present the music that inspired them and often changed their lives. The faculty member will discuss why certain music is so meaningful. In this way, we again reinforce the legacy of jazz and pay tribute to its master performers.

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