Do you need some guidance on what next steps you should take as a jazz musician? Check out these quick questions and answers.
Q: I am a beginner to jazz. Where should I start?
A: If you are a complete beginner, someone who has never played an instrument before, your best option is to start with private lessons on your instrument. If you are already relatively adept on a particular instrument but are new to jazz, you may be ready for our ensemble programs, including small ensembles for all levels, improv workshops and big bands.
Q: I am an advanced musician who already graduated as a music major. Is there a place for me with NYJA?
A: Yes. You may have graduated from music school, but you might still feel unprepared as a jazz musician, particularly in such an intimidating place as NYC. NYJA will help you continue to grow as a professional, and you will have an opportunity to break through some plateaus while studying with top-tier NYC professionals.
Q: I have been disappointed by other workshops offered by other programs, and I wonder if NYJA will really deliver.
A: That is understandable. We hear from many many students who have attended programs programs presented by other institutions and organizations, and their disappoint tends to lie in two areas: (1) the player, someone who was more of a beginner in jazz, felt the other workshop was too advanced and a lot of the material moved too quickly or just went over his or her head, or (2) the player, someone who was more advanced, felt the other musicians in the workshop were far too inexperienced, so the collaborative experience was not helpful or very enjoyable.
Our programs are leveled really well, and we have a great track record of placing musicians in appropriately leveled ensemble and course programs. Beginners are taught with a clarity and patience that resonates with everyone involved. Advanced players are taught by players who can help with difficult jazz concepts all while work shopping among players of similar skill levels. We are very organized and committed. For instance, if a bassist cannot show up for a workshop rehearsal, we go out of our way to hire a ringer to fill the bass chair so that everyone involved is assured a quality and fulfilling ensemble experience. Finally, we are also very honest, and we will let you if we feel you would be better served in a different workshop or even a different school.
Q: I am deciding whether to attend NYJA or another 2-year or 4-year program. What should I do?
A: Where you go to school depends on your professional and musical goals. NYJA is trailblazing a new learning model that is very different than most 2-year and 4-year institutions. What is right for you may not be right for your neighbors or peers. We suggest you begin by making a list of pros and con to help you compare schools:
Some basic pros for NYJA: (1) world-class instruction in the heart of the jazz capital of the world, (2) pay-as-you-go tuition plans that won’t break the bank, freeing you from suffocating student loans, and (3) an abundance of evening and weekend courses allowing you to pursue your dreams and goals without having to quit your day job.
Some basic pros for a 2-year or 4-year program: (1) you will have a chance to earn a degree, particularly valuable if you intend to teach music, (2) a chance to study full-time day and night, and (3) access to campus facilities, including music libraries, recording equipment, and dedicated practice rooms.
Q: I just want to take private lessons. Can I do that?
A: Yes. Visit our private lessons page for more information on private lesson specifics, including rates, locations, and registration.
Q: How do I know if the program I sign up for is going to include other participants my age?
A: You can always double-check with us by contacting our office regarding a specific program, but our programs tend to see more adult participants with an occasional number of teens in the mix. We encourage teens who want a “teen only” experience to sign up for our Teen Improvisation Workshop. Kids under age 13 are encouraged to sign up for our Junior Jazz Workshop. Our summer program sees a healthy mix of adults and teens. We take great care to make sure participants feel at home in our programs, regardless of specific age levels.
Q: Do you also teach classical music?
A: Yes. Most of our teachers are extremely well-versed in classical music and classical pedagogy. Many have performed with leading classical ensembles throughout the world. We emphasize both jazz and classical study for beginning and intermediate students, and we consider classical technique, harmony, and literature to be a valuable part of a student’s development.
Q: What about note-reading?
A: Note-reading is quite valuable. It is a bit of a misconception to think of jazz as having little to do with note-reading. Jazz study does incorporate improvisation, but fluency in note-reading is an important skill that helps every jazz musician function at a particularly high musical level. Because of this, we encourage note-reading with our students. Ironically, our students tend to develop a greater understanding of notation because of our holistic approach to pedagogy.
Q: I need help deciding what programs to consider! What should I do?
A: Call us at (718) 426-0633 or email us. We will be happy to help you decide what is best for you. No pressure. Really! We’re here to help. You won’t have to worry about a hard sell.