Private Lessons | Jazz | Contemporary Improvisation (CI)

Private Lessons Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation

Prep Woodwind QuintetPrivate instruction is the foundation of a sound musical education. At NEC Prep, the depth and expertise of our faculty assure a great match for our students' individual needs. Private lessons of 30, 45, and 60 minutes are offered for students of all levels (including beginners!). Prospective jazz and brass students must set up an audition or placement interview with their respective department chair or coordinator, who will advise each student personally regarding an appropriate studio teacher placement and path of study. For information on teacher placement interviews and scheduling an appointment for Jazz or CI, please contact the Prep office.

For information on how to get started, please click here. Private lessons can begin at any time during the school year.


David Zoffer, Jazz Department Chair
Rick McLaughlin, Assistant Jazz Chair

The Preparatory School jazz program develops skills necessary for understanding the jazz tradition of improvisation. Repertoire studied will include classic and contemporary jazz literature as well as its African and European roots. Classes will involve ear training, composing, writing, singing, and playing of materials.

Students in our Jazz program participate in all or a combination of the below offerings.

Audition and Placement Information

To sign up for a Jazz placement audition (jazz ensemble, classes, or private lessons), please call the Prep Office at 617-585-1160.

Both new and returning jazz students must also complete an admission form found here. If you have already registered, you must still fill out this form in order to be placed in the jazz course schedule. Completion of this form does not constitute registration or payment.

For more information on how to audition for our Jazz program, click here. For specific information on how to audition for our Youth Jazz Orchestra (YJO), click here.

Contemporary Improvisation (CI)

Lautaro Mantilla, Chair

CI is for everyone, whether you are a classical performer, a traditional jazz musician, a songwriter, a singer-along-with-the-radio, or a brand new instrumentalist. You can immerse yourself completely in CI or enhance your other performance studies by joining an ensemble or taking individual lessons with our diverse faculty. In addition, the CI department will help you develop other important skills: getting comfortable on stage, communicating with audiences, teaching, organizing concerts and community events, like barn dances, jam sessions, or improvisational the CI department, the possibilities are endless!

What does the music of all these folks have in common: Nina Simone, Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Ornette Coleman, Carla Kihlstedt, Gilles Apap, Aoife O’Donovan, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Gustav Mahler, Ran Blake, John Zorn, Astor Piazzola, Stevie Wonder, the Dirty Projectors, Thelonious Monk, Gunther Schuller... Come find out in CI!

CI Classes and Ensembles

Introduction to Contemporary Improvisation (Ages 7-11)

Lautaro Mantilla, Instructor

With a number of different exercises and methodologies, young musicians will learn how to improvise and how to develop their musical creativity. This is a safe environment to experiment with music from different traditions and to learn approaches used in Contemporary Improvisation. The goal is to build ear skills while students gain facility on their instruments. Come PLAY with us.

Saturday, 9:00-10:00 AM

Introduction to Contemporary Improvisation (Ages 12+)

Lautaro Mantilla, Instructor

In this ensemble, we will present a "bag of tools" for young musicians to become future improvisers. We will create new songs, compositions and improvisations using different techniques, new approaches to ear training, and different ways to play and notate music. We will be using our ears and voices as powerful vehicles to interact with others.

Saturday, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

A Cappella Singers

For more information about CI A Cappella, click here.

Chinese Music Ensemble

Hui Weng, Instructor

This ensemble is open by audition to all NEC Prep students and offers an opportunity to perform and arrange repertoire from a variety of Chinese traditional and other world musics. During each rehearsal, students will listen to a diverse world music repertoire. They will learn musical forms, modes, and rhythms of typical instruments within each tradition. Students will also develop improvisation skills based on the different musical forms. The goal is to foster individual creativity and create a new musical language that innovates and crosses boundaries.

Saturday, 5:00 - 6:00 PM