Stanford Jazz Workshop Gives Middle, High Schools Students A Start In Jazz, 'Innovative' Mindset

© 2014 Stanford Jazz Workshop
© 2014 Stanford Jazz Workshop

News release from the Stanford Jazz Festival/Stanford Jazz Workshop:

Yale Alumnae Meklit will perform Friday at Stanford Jazz Festival. What is the takeaway for middle- and high school students the Stanford Jazz Workshop’s training programs?

 Stanford Jazz Workshop, founded in 1972, provides jazz education programs for middle- and high- school students. Over the years, their program has produced world-class jazz musicians including Joshua Redman, Dayna Stephens, and Taylor Eigsti and more. Others have gone on to gain degrees in jazz studies and become instructors at some of the nation’s finest schools of music….and still others develop apply their new-found skills of improvisation to the way they conduct business in the 21st century. 

This summer at the Stanford Jazz Festival, one of those alumni, Alexander Dubovoy, currently a student at Yale, will be overseeing a series of events created for Stanford and Yale alumni on June 27 (for the Meklit performance - a Yale alumnae), August 2 (for the Heath Brothers performance - some of the oldest living legends of jazz) and August 9 (for the Chick Corea performance - one of the biggest draws of the summer festival).   

Dubovoy’s role? To let other Ivy League alumni in the Bay Area know more about jazz programs offered to middle- and high school such as Stanford Jazz Workshop, and to spread the word about his quest to grow a jazz community comparable to the Stanford Jazz Workshop at Yale. 

An enthusiastic participant of the Stanford Jazz Workshop when he was in middle- and high-school, Alexander Dubovoy, an accomplished jazz musician, is the incoming president of the Yale Undergraduate Jazz Collective, a student-run organization devoted to providing jazz opportunities to students, alumni, and the broader community.

 Alexander Dubovoy developed his connection to jazz during his middle- and high school years while attending the Stanford Jazz Workshop courses. Of the program, he says, “Perhaps the most important part of the SJW experience is getting to know a group of young, talented musicians and friends who are so passionate about the music. These friendships stay with you for life, and the SJW's mission to bring students together in such a way has taught me the importance of fostering cohesive, supportive artistic communities. I am so happy to see that the program is extending its reach even more young students in the Bay Area." 

According to Jim Nadel, Artistic & Executive Director of SJW, “Educating middle and high school students is an exciting element of the work of the Stanford Jazz Workshop.” He notes that students not only come away with a deeper understanding of, and passion for, jazz music, but hone the skill of improvisation,  sometimes referred to as “jamming.” 

He explains that he considers this a vital skill in the 21st century work world where flexibility and collaboration are key to success. “Jazz provides the most literal and intensive training in creative thinking and group work possible. Among those trained in jazz, one can see an ability to improvise and create with others in a group setting that is superior to those who have not received this kind of training. In a work world that is dynamic and fast-paced, those who are able to ‘jam’ and move with others in a group setting will be able to make greater strides than those who cannot.”

SJW actively reaches out to schools and educators in underserved communities through the organization’s Community Jazz Partnership. Says Managing Director, Jeffrey Babcock “Thanks to SJW’s supporters, our programs are accessible for many interested and capable young jazz musicians through a generous financial aid and scholarship program. We also value those organizations who have provided the latest technical tools that are bringing music education to the next level. Thanks to these partnership, we are becoming part of the cutting edge where technology is meeting the world of musical instruction. These are very dynamic times for our organization in Silicon Valley. ” 

Today, SJW is expanding further through a new middle school program, the Giant Steps Middle School Big Band. This is the first in a series of educational initiatives for aspiring young students to study jazz with JW's outstanding faculty during the school year.


The Stanford Jazz Workshop (SJW) offers courses for children and adults, and a summer festival called The Stanford Jazz Festival. From their humble inception in 1972 — when informal jam sessions at Stanford University’s CoHo (Coffee House) began growing into an annual jazz campus residency — the jazz education programs of Stanford Jazz Workshop (SJW) have become internationally renowned. SJW has since created an exceptional summer community, bringing together some of the world’s great jazz musicians and educators to mentor eager, talented students. Paired with exposure to additional jazz headliners in concert through the simultaneous Stanford Jazz Festival, this powerful experience has had lasting impact on over 20,000 students of middle school age through adulthood. 

Some of the world’s best known jazz musicians have taught at SJW, from Stan Getz and Dizzy Gillespie and many others. SJW Jazz Camp and Jazz Institute students receive an individualized curriculum, specifically tailored to their goals and experience level. Practical performance training is focused on becoming a valued member of a jazz ensemble. Learning from high-level professionals, hearing them perform in concert, and jamming with them at the Stanford Coffee House, “CoHo,” — this thoroughly immersive approach is often cited by students as a major influence in the direction of their musical lives. As the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding.



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