Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I sign-up my child for SMF Jazz Academy?
A: 21-22 Enrollment Periods are the best times to sign-up your child for the program. Click here for dates, information, and the sign-up form.

Q: When I enroll my child will they automatically be accepted into the program?
A: No. Limited space is available and all students must complete a placement interview before final decisions are made.

Q: How does SMF Jazz Academy decide who can take an open space?
A: SMF Jazz Academy weighs student acceptance by submission day of their enrollment form, their placement interview, and the available inventory of music equipment.

Q: What happens at a placement interview?
A: There will be a series of questions and a short playing period with an instructor. See below for an example of some of the questions and what playing materials will be needed:

  • What instrument do you play/What instrument do you want to play? 
    • Bass
    • Drum set
    • Guitar
    • Piano
    • Saxophone
    • Trombone
    • Trumpet
    • Melodica
  • How long have you been playing?
  • Any other musical experience (school bands, community bands, etc.)?

Playing materials for students to prepare:

If you have prior musical experience…

  • Prepare one piece that showcases your strengths, all styles welcome, jazz if possible.
  • Prepare to play all scales that you know.

Depending on your musical level, you also might be asked to…

  • Sight-read a short piece.
  • Do some singing/playing with an instructor.
  • Improvise with an instructor.

If you have no musical experience…

  • We’ll talk! We’d love to hear about you and hear where your musical interests lie. 
  • Even if you have no musical experience, we still might have you try out some instruments or do some playing and singing just so you can see what this music is all about!

Q: What is “music experience?”
A: Musical levels of students are fairly subjective, depending on who you ask. Here are basic descriptions of music levels:

Beginner – (0-1 year of music experience) – Student has never played an instrument, may have a basic understanding of music but does not know music clef signs or how to read music notes.
Intermediate – (2-3 years of music experience) – Student can play their instrument with basic knowledge of body set-up, instrument set-up, and has a good foundation of note reading.
Advanced – (3+ years of music experience) – Student can play their instrument with ease because their technique and note reading are very strong. Generally, a student with experienced technical skills can be thrown into almost any situation and find their way, to one degree or another.

Q: How long does the program last?
A: The program operates within SCCPSS’s school year calendar. Students will attend 1-2 days a week. The placement interview helps our music director place students into the appropriate music level groups, called ensembles.

Q: Can my child participate in the program for ONLY the lessons and not the classes or rehearsals?
A: SMF Jazz Academy prides itself on being a rigorous jazz education program where participants receive their jazz education from their weekly jazz classes or rehearsals. Students must attend their weekly classes or rehearsals in order to receive their weekly instrumental lessons.

Q: Can my child participate in the program for ONLY the classes and not the lessons?
A: Students must participate in lessons in order to participate in SMF Jazz Academy jazz classes or rehearsals. Lessons are taught by our experienced Artist Instructors, that will teach students how to harness particular techniques and the songs that use those techniques so your child fully understands how to apply them to their SMF Jazz Academy jazz classes or rehearsals.

Q: My child has a disability or an IEP, may they participate?
A: SMF Jazz Academy does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, or disability. SMF Jazz Academy admits students of any gender, race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, and activities available in our program. To further discuss your child’s needs contact SMF Jazz Academy Manager, Jessica Messere at jessica@savannahmusicfestival.org or 912-234-3378 ext. 107.

Q: My child has no music experience, can they still sign-up?
A: Yes! SMF Jazz Academy does not require students to have prior music experience. All we ask is a commitment and desire for students to actively participate in our program for them to benefit from the high-quality jazz education.

Q: Is there a tuition fee?
A: No, SMF Jazz Academy is completely FREE! We provide everything a student will need to participate in the program.

Q: What tuition-free things are provided during my child’s participation?
A: The following are provided to students during the program period at no cost…

  • Free instrument rental (if needed)
  • 30 minute (45 minute – music level dependent) one-on-one instrument lesson each week
  • Jazz History
  • Jazz Ensemble Rehearsals
  • Snacks
  • Performance Opportunities
  • Jam Sessions
  • Student Hangs and
  • Opportunities to attend select Savannah Music Festival events.

Q: If tuition is free, are there any other expenses?
A: We ask for a monthly maintenance fee of $10.00 per program instrument that is rented from the program.

Q: What if my child already has an instrument?
A: Great! If your child has established themselves with their own instrument, have them use that instrument for the program.

Q: What if I want to find an instrument for my child?
A: SMF Jazz Academy encourages parents to take advantage of the FREE instrument rental. Each instrument is of good quality complete with a well-fitting case, instrument care accessories, and a practice kit that includes a music stand, metronome, and tuner (if applicable). If you choose to invest in an instrument outside of SMF Jazz Academy contact your student’s SMF Jazz Academy Artist Instructor or Jessica Messere, SMF Jazz Academy Manager. Either will provide contact information for instrument sellers.

Q: Can I observe the program?
A: Yes, we highly encourage parents to observe program rehearsals. In fact, studies have proven that students who have parental involvement have a positive effect on their child’s enjoyment of music and their music-making progress.

Q: What do the instruments look like and how do they sound?

Trumpet: Christian Marrero

Saxophone: Lakecia Benjamin

Trombone: Trombone Shorty

Drums & Guitar: Nandi Bushell

Piano: Joey Alexander

Electric Bass: Aron Hodek

More questions? Contact Aaron Jennings at aaron@savannahmusicfestival.org.