Jazz Classes


NEC Prep Jazz offers a comprehensive a la carte classroom course program that includes three levels of Jazz Ear Training, three levels of Jazz Theory, History of Jazz for all levels and ages and a two-year Jazz Styles course. Each course meets weekly for an hour for thirty meetings during the Fall/Spring semesters.
Classroom courses at NEC Prep Jazz are designed in conjunction with the small Jazz ensemble program, where students perform Jazz and related music from the U.S. and around the world. The Jazz classroom courses are larger in size than the small Jazz ensembles and create the opportunity to meet Jazz students, create a sense of community and share musical inspiration.
The subjects covered in classroom courses will have to be covered to some extent in private Jazz lessons, if students are not enrolled in the classroom courses. It is important for private Jazz lesson teachers to spend as much time as possible on subjects like technique as well as specific improvisational concepts and musical language that help students perform in their unique personal context.
All Jazz department classroom courses emphasize thorough ear training. Students are encouraged to play the material that is introduced in classroom courses on their instruments as well as sing it. All classes are designed to help support students with the essential skills of identifying what it is that they are hearing, being able to play what they hear and reacting in an ensemble or solo performance setting so that they can contribute a coherent narrative to the overall musical effort.
Students in these courses enthusiastically create improvisational material during class and compositional material outside of class, based on that week’s course content. Students get feedback weekly from the teachers, however courses do not have letter grades. These courses can be taken live on campus on Saturday, but also online with Zoom synchronously in real time, or asynchronously, where students watch a recording of the live Saturday class, submit assignments to NEC’s learning management system, NEO, and receive feedback on their work from class recordings stored in NEO.                
**(To be eligible for discounted tuition on year-long activities (classes, chamber music, jazz ensembles, and large ensembles), students are required to register for 30, or 36 Preparatory School private lessons for the year. Any approved cancellation or reduction of lessons below 30 will result in a reversal of these discounts.)

Prep Jazz Classroom Courses, Times and Descriptions:

History of Jazz

Rick McLaughlin, Instructor

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Jazz history is critical in giving students inspirational exposure to many recordings of Jazz and related music they have not heard, no matter what musical background they have. It helps them both broaden their options and define what styles and concepts matter to them. Although listening to music is the primary activity in this course, reading assignments and in-class performances are both incorporated, although it does not require too much homework time outside of the course.
This year-long course is an overview of Jazz music, tracking its evolution from the music of the African diaspora to the many distinct sub-genres called "Jazz" up to the present day. Students will listen to and discuss music from the most influential musicians in Jazz history, explore the music of lesser-known, yet highly influential Jazz musicians, and investigate the ways in which Jazz has both influenced, and been influenced by other types of music, the world over. Not only will students complete the course with a stronger grasp of the context and inner-workings of Jazz music, but they will also develop stronger aural skills, which in turn, will support their own artistic growth.

Saturday, 12:00 PM - 12:50 PM

Jazz Styles

David Zoffer, Instructor

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This two-year class alternates material every other year and is designed for 11th and 12th grade students and sometimes 10th grade students. It requires some prior knowledge of theory and is required for Level III and IV of the Jazz Certificate Program. In this class, compositions will be analyzed from both the “big picture” (form, harmony, arrangement, melody and rhythm) and the “little picture” (articulation and methods of improvisation and embellishment). Many students in this class will perform together on Certificate Recitals, so recital preparation is discussed in this class, as well as college auditions. Class assignments will include improvisation, model composition and transcriptions and are scalable to the amount of time students can put into the course in a given week. Students deliver an in-class analytical presentation at the beginning and end of each school year on a subject of their choice that shows how they would compose, improvise, arrange and/or practice differently after their research.

Source material for the even numbered Fall school years has included artists associated with: Bebop, Harmonic/Thematic Free Improvisation, Standard Forms, Episodic Composition, Thematic Harmonic Composition/Improvisation, Fusion, Swing Ballad Composition, Post-Bop, Reharmonization and Jazz Influenced Pop. Source material for the odd numbered Fall school years includes artists associated with: modal music from Japan, classical improvisation traditions from North and South India, Blues, 1960s modal jazz, Modal/Free Hybrid Improv, Funk, Reggae, and Hip-Hop.

Saturday, 1:00 PM – 1:50 PM

Jazz Ear Training

Introduction to Jazz Ear Training

Joel Yennior, Instructor

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This year-long class is designed to give beginning and intermediate jazz students ear training, using musical vocabulary from the many different eras in jazz history. Students learn to identify basic intervals, chord sounds, and rhythms that are crucial building blocks in developing basic jazz aural skills. The class uses recorded source material, and there will be some simple transcription exercises. Designed to complement Jazz Theory I, this class ensures that students are familiar not only with the theoretical terminology and protocol of jazz, but that they also can aurally internalize (hear) and externalize (play and sing) jazz theory concepts.

Saturday, 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM

Intermediate Jazz Ear Training

Ari Lerner, Instructor

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This year-long class is designed for students who have a basic aural grasp of intervals, jazz forms, rhythms, and chords, but are not yet working with advanced jazz vocabulary.

Saturday, 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM

Advanced Jazz Ear Training

Chase Morrin, Instructor

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This class is designed for students working with sophisticated jazz aural vocabulary. It is required for students pursuing a Level IV Jazz Certificate.

Saturday, 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM

Jazz Theory

Jazz Theory I

James Stewardson, Instructor

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This year-long class is an introduction to the principles used for analyzing jazz compositions and the vocabulary used by jazz musicians for compositional and improvisational development. Emphasis is on understanding common technical terms and also on learning to apply theoretical constructs to playing and/or singing in a performance setting. Recordings of well-known jazz pieces will be used to demonstrate theory concepts.

Saturday, 10:00 AM – 10:50 AM

Jazz Theory II

TBD, Instructor

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This year-long class is a continuation and expansion of the analytic principles and vocabulary introduced in Jazz Theory I. Class topics can include dominant function, modal interchange, deceptive resolution, diminished chords and scales, and compound chords. Students listen to and analyze jazz standards from a variety of perspectives as improvisers, accompanists and composers. The result aims to educate the student on the inner-workings of this music, while empowering the student to adopt similar approaches in their own playing and composing.

Saturday, 11:00 AM – 11:50 AM

Jazz Theory III

Nicholas Brust, Instructor

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This year-long advanced class, covers sophisticated jazz harmony and improvisation techniques, and is often taken by 12th grade or 11th grade students with several years of experience in Small Jazz Ensembles.

Saturday, 2:00 PM - 2:50 PM



2023-2024 Jazz Placement Form
Jazz Placement Information
Jazz Ensemble Information
Jazz Classroom Course Information
Jazz Private Lesson Information
Jazz Certificate Program
Jazz Faculty