Private Lessons | Jazz | Contemporary Improvisation (CI)

Private Lessons—Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation


Private 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 jazzand 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

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 Information

For information on how to audition for our Jazz program (with the exception of YJO), click here.

For information on how to audition for YJO, click here.

Contemporary Improvisation (CI)

Lautaro Mantilla & Rachel Panitch, Contemporary Improvisation Co-Coordinators

In CI, we...
...develop personal style
...learn by ear
...write our own songs
...compose, perform, and collaborate
...improvise together with repertoire from all over the world
...create new music
...explore and share our own traditions on our own musical experiences and skills the art of musical masters in many different genres
…share with the communities we live in

CI is for everyone, whether you are a classical performer, a traditional jazz musician, a songwriter, a singer-along-with-the-radio, 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

String Band (Not just for strings!)

Rachel Panitch, Instructor

This ensemble explores traditional folk music of North America, especially focusing on New England and French Canadian styles. Students will learn by ear, improvise, and work out their own arrangements as a band, focusing on style and groove as integral parts of the ensemble.
Saturdays, 10-11am

CI Roots and Shoots

Rachel Panitch, Instructor

Improvising from Scratch: Using improvisation games from Alice Kanack's Creative Ability Development method, this course introduces beginning musicians to melodic and rhythmic improvisation, while exploring and developing an understanding of the musical modes that form the framework of musics from diverse cultures. Students will gain facility on their instruments as well as build the complex ear skills needed to fit together many musical moving parts. This is a safe and welcoming place to experiment, building musical creations starting from just one note! Geared for students ages 7 - 11.

CI A Cappella

For more information about CI A Cappella, click here.