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Enrol now for lessons in 2018

We have an insanely great drum teacher at JWA, available for drum lessons on the lower north shore and definitely good enough to warrant coming from anywhere in Sydney. Jamie Cameron has vacancies for students in 2017 at our St Leonards studio. He is best known for his jazz playing, but is a virtuoso performers in diverse styles, from jazz and big band to contemporary, Latin, rock, pop, funk, blues, and fusion. He has experience and a strong track record in teaching:

Jamie Cameron, drum teacher

  • Private drum lessons
  • HSC music preparation
  • School music coaching
  • University and conservatorium auditions
  • Drums for concert band, stage band, big band, and jazz band
  • Contemporary music exams
  • Technique and rudiments
  • Reading
Drum lessons with Jamie Cameron

Jamie Cameron is a graduate of Sydney Conservatorium and a Yamaha Australia recording artist. He is drummer for the acclaimed Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra and is busy performing and recording with groups like Amphibious, Song Fwaa, Lily Dior, 20th Century Dog, The Felas, Cumbiamuffin, The Hi-Tops, Salvation Street Shout, and Jimmy Vargas. He even plays with ‘ironic disco band’ The Brutal Poodles. He also finds time to be a dedicated drum teacher who gets results.

Much more than just drum lessons

At JWA, students of all levels and all ages get access to excellent teachers, our music school facilities and program, including ensembles, masterclasses, guest artists, camps, and so on. It isn’t just jazz, but if that is your passion, then we are the people to help you achieve your goals. Jazz Workshop Australia is the only music school in Sydney dedicated to jazz.

Enroll now in drum lessons at JWA

To enroll in drum lessons with Jamie Cameron, contact us online or email info@JazzWorkshopAustralia.com.au.

Our studio is 5 minutes from St Leonards station and is close to all lower north shore areas including Crows Nest, Artarmon, Greenwich, North Sydney, Neutral Bay, Cremorne, Lane Cove, Mosman, Milsons Point, and Chatswood.

The post Drum Lessons, lower north shore appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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We were excited to hear that one of our former students, pianist & vocalist Emma Grace  Stephenson, has won the prestigious Freedman Jazz Fellowship for 2017. Emma came to jazz camp and, inspired by the experience, came to JWA for piano lessons and to join our jazz combo program. She was accepted into the jazz studies course at the Sydney Conservatorium and continues to excel. She is one of the most exciting pianists & composers on the Australian jazz scene today, and co-leads one of the most exciting groups, the Hieronymus trio.

Emma’s colleagues in Hieronymous drummer Oli Nelson and bassist Nick Henderson are also JWA alumni; in fact, they all played together as students in the JWA advanced combo. Every member of that combo went on to become a professional jazz player.

In 2012 we interviewed Emma, click here to read it.

More than anything just meeting people my age who played jazz, through Jazz Camp and Jazz Workshop classes was where I drew most of my motivation.

Emma Stephenson (2nd from left) with band: Nick Henderson, Kristin Berardi & Oli Nelson.

The two other finalists in the Freedman Jazz Fellowship also have JWA connections: Trumpet player Ellen Kirkwood taught trumpet at JWA for a number of years (she was also my assistant conductor in the NSW Arts Unit stage band back in the day). Nick Garbett, another trumpeter, came to jazz camps as a student.

We are very proud of all three of them, but especially Emma. It is so pleasing to see our former students doing so well. Congratulations Emma!

Saul Richardson.

The post Emma Stephenson, Freedman Jazz Fellow 2017 appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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The JWA stage band

We put together an “all-star” big band to play for a Parramatta Rotary club function. It was at the Holiday Inn at Parramatta. Everyone in the band was a member of our combos (except for one last-minute substitute, Thanks Lee). It was a 13-piece ‘little big band’ format, playing specially arranged or adapted music. It worked really well, and sounded very good.

We don’t plan to make it a regular thing, but we will certainly to it again. Because it was all combo student, everyone was a soloist with great ears and ability to think and adapt ‘on the spot’. That made for a great, flexible and very musical group. Working title for the group is the ‘JWA Stage Band’, to differentiate it from the SYJO community big bands we sponsor.

The post JWA stage band appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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What better way to end a term than with a jam? Saturday September 23, a bunch of students from our combos did just that.

The post End of term jam appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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JWA 10th Anniversary Concert
  • Monday 28 August
  • Chatswood RSL Club auditorium (Victoria St, Chatswood)
  • 6:15pm. Free entry.
  • Meals & drinks available. Families and kids welcome.
  • Who’s performing? All our students have been invite to perform including everyone taking private lessons and all our combos.

Jazz Workshop Australia is ten years old this year, 2017. Start a jazz-based enterprise in Sydney, in the depths of the then Global Financial Crisis? Why not? We are so glad we did! It started with just a handful of students and a core of teachers who were all looking for somewhere new to teach after a local high school decided to scrap instrumental music lessons. Ten years later, the school is still going strong with many more students and teachers. We are very proud of what our students have achieved over the past decade and have been here to make it happen.

To celebrate this milestone we’re putting on a concert featuring all our current students.

The post 10th Anniversary Concert appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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June 9-11 our Junior combo performed in the Merimbula Jazz Festival. Merimbula is on the far south coast of NSW, and the festival is one of the longest-running in Australia. We have sent groups there before but this is the first time we have showcased our youngest jazz players there.

The musicians in the combo are aged 9-13 years. They played twice on the official festival program and twice at the busy Waterfront Cafe on the wharf in the middle of town. The regular members Ben, Cameron, Damon, Liam, Olivia, and Oscar were joined at some of the gigs by Flynn, Keaghan, and Damon. They played wonderfully well and were very popular with the jazz fans in the audience. It is nice for a young talented group like this to have the chance to play for a paying audience of strangers who recognise what they are achieving and support them in it.

Our gigs were:

  • Friday June 9 Lakeview Hotel, 9-10pm;
  • Saturday June 10 1:30 – 2:30pm, Waterfront Cafe;
  • Sunday June 11, 3:30-4:30pm, Waterfront Cafe
  • Sunday June 11, 6-7pm, Lakeview Hotel

Some of the musicians were also playing with the SYJO2 big band at the festival, as well as the opening parade, making for some long days – all dealt with with enthusiasm and aplomb. Thanks to the festival and the Waterfront Cafe for having us!

The post Junior Combo @ Merimbula appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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Our over 18s-only adult combos will be playing a concert at the Jazz Workshop on Monday May 22 from 7pm. it is the end-of-course performance for the introductory Combo I, and mid-year recital for the advanced Combo II. Free entry, all welcome.

The Jazz Workshop is First floor, 58 Atchison St, St Leonards.

The post Adult combos concert appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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We are excited to announce that New York Australian expat and acclaimed jazz piano virtuoso and vocalist Matt Baker will be teaching at Summer Jazz Camp 2018.

No stranger to Jazz Camp, Matt Baker was a popular regular on the teaching faculty before moving to live in New York. He has since enjoyed a stellar career and has become one of Australia’s most successful international jazz musicians. He is also a passionate and skillful jazz educator who brings an irresistible enthusiasm to his teaching.

Baker recorded his 5th album Almost Blue (via JazzElm Music), with producer Matt Pierson, released in June 2016. The album features tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, along with Luques Curtis on bass, Obed Calvaire on drums and guitarist Lage Lund. His previous album‘Underground’ featuring Gregory Hutchinson, Dayna Stephens and Jeremy Pelt received rave reviews in Downbeat, Jazz Times and Jazz Wise UK, and reached #26 on the US JazzWeekcharts.

Baker’s sideman credits include engagements with, among others, guitar icon Bucky Pizzarelli,  tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, bassist Marco Panascia, and vocalists Alexis Cole, Tierney Sutton, Judy Collins and Barb Jungr. In addition to refining his presentation of the Oscar Peterson repertoire in his show ‘An Oscar Moment’, (which has been presented at Birdland and different venues in North America and abroad with sidemen Jim Cammack, Jerome Jennings and vocalist Brianna Thomas), Baker has played numerous trio engagements that feature his own repertoire conception in diverse NYC rooms like Birdland, The Blue Note, Cleopatra’s Needle, Gin Fizz, Iridium, Kitano, Bemelmans, Le Cirque, the Zinc Bar, as well as The Side Door in CT and Scullers Jazz Club in Boston.

Matt Baker was an award winner in the 2003 Montreux International Solo Jazz Piano competition and a semi-finalist in 2004 and 2005. The Montreux Jazz Festival also engaged the Matt Baker Trio as its exclusive in-house band for 2 years straight, where they performed 17 nights in the Montreux Festival Jazz Club, accompanying and supporting many of the headlining artists.

A student of Taylor Eigsti’s since moving to New York, Matt watched Oscar Peterson perform live an entire week at the Blue Note, which he recounts as being as great a lesson as any! Baker has also studied with Mulgrew Miller, Benny Green, Fred Hersch, Aaron Goldberg, Jacky Terrasson, James Williams, Ralph Sutton and Ella Fitzgerald’s life-long accompanist Paul Smith.

The post Matt Baker to teach at Summer Jazz Camp appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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From term 3 of this year (2017) we’ll be running a new combo for school-aged beginners. At the moment the day and time are TBC – that will depend on what suits a quorum of members. All the musicians in the current ‘beginner’ groups aren’t beginners any more, so we need a new combo for inexperienced young musicians.

The combo will be  for young musicians who are beginners at jazz, but not on their instruments. To do this and get the most out of it, you need to be able to play already. Even someone who has done a Grade 8 exam could still be a novice when it comes to jazz improvisation, and impro is the main focus of a jazz combo.

Playing in a jazz combo is quite a different musical experience to playing in a traditional ‘reading’ band or orchestra. It teaches a range of really useful musical skills, and brings a whole new (and empowering) way of understanding music. Some of the great benefits are:

  • learn jazz improvisation & small group playing
  • gain confidence
  • supercharged musical skills and awareness
  • teamwork and great fun!

We’ll post more details in the next couple of months, but get in touch if your child or a young musician you know is interested in being part of this.

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From time to time we meet young musicians who are about to finish high school and aspire to study at one of the reputable tertiary jazz schools but are taken aback and disappointed when they don’t get past the audition. Why not? After all, they were one of the best musicians at their school, even in their town. They played in the top stage band/big band at school. Maybe they did their exams and played some jazz pieces, and did really well. What is the problem?
We can explain:

1. Stage band (big band) is the wrong kind of jazz.

Yes, stage bands (aka big bands in the real world) play a kind of jazz, but it is a kind of hybrid music that tends to be more like classical music than the kind of jazz played by professionals and taught by the universities. Big bands focus on accurately reading a part, just like in a classical orchestra. The creativity lies with the composer, the arranger, and to some extent with the conductor. There are moments of improvised solos (or should be – in school bands, sometimes not even this happens) but the focus of performances and rehearsals is on blend, balance, playing the right notes, correct rhythms, and so on.
These things are important, especially for big band and commercial music. But they are very common skills. Pretty well everyone can read music and play accurately. You don’t need to be jazz-trained to do that.

2. You need to be trained in how to play in a jazz way.

The kind of playing that underpins jazz involves a way of playing. Think of jazz as a way of playing music, not a genre. A skilful jazz musician can play pretty well any music in a jazz way. You need to know what that is and how to do it.

The fundamental concepts of jazz playing are Improvisation + Variation + Interaction.


Jazz players know how to moves seamlessly between playing something exactly as written, changing it slightly, reinterpreting a theme, improvising solos based off the chords of a song, playing completely “free” or abstract music. They don’t always do all these things, but do whichever is needed for their current performance. The know how to do these things, and what effects each creates, and can fly between different ways of playing at will. These skills involve improvisation and variation.
Interaction is another variable that jazz players know how to control in real-time as they perform. It is common in jazz for spontaneous interaction to be a key part of a performance. What the rhythm section plays depends on what the soloist plays, and what the soloist plays depends on the rhythm section. The performance is not all pre-arranged: some of it might be, but most of it is often improvised collectively in real-time.
These things are essential skills for jazz, and experience in and awareness of them are things that university audition panels tend to be looking for. You don’t get these skills just from playing in a big band, no matter how good a band it is. You also don’t get them from playing jazz pieces in an exam.
To be able to play jazz like a jazz musician you need experience in an improvising small group (aka “combo”), you need to know how to vary and improvise around a tune, and you need to know how to interact in real-time during performance with other jazz musicians. There is theory and concepts and skills that go together to make up various jazz improvisation styles, and you need to learn and practice those things too. But none of the theory means anything without that fundamental ability to “fly” at will between different levels of improvising and variation, and the knack of creating spontaneous collective arrangements in real time.
Because you don’t get those things from big band alone, many keen and promising students end up disappointed and with a year or two of hard catching-up to do or, even worse, quitting in frustration.

The post Why you need more than just big band appeared first on Jazz Workshop Australia.

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