Mikel Combs, Jazz Academy Director
Ian Sims, Jazz Academy Associate Director

The Jazz Performance Academy brings together highly motivated students in a collaborative and challenging environment to expand their repertoire and nurture the skills of improvisation. The Jazz Performance Academy is for serious woodwind, brass, rhythm section (piano, bass, drums and guitar), and other instrumentalists, ages 12-18, whose playing exhibits musicality, potential, and a solid foundation of jazz phrasing and technique. Exceptional younger students are considered on a case-by-case basis.

As its name implies, the Jazz Performance Academy teaches students the skills to become effective performers. Through the proven jazz pedagogy of imitation, experimentation, and mentoring, students will gain new insight into the connections between melody, harmony, and rhythm and be exposed to a variety of jazz styles.

Jazz Performance Academy classes take place on Saturdays at the downtown Baltimore campus. In addition to weekly 60- or 90- minute individual instruction lessons with a member of the Peabody Jazz faculty, students will participate in one of our two jazz ensembles, optional music theory, Jazz Transcription, and Jazz Performance Class. The centerpiece of the Jazz Performance Academy, the Performance Class will focus on advanced harmony and improvisation techniques and include visits from guest artists.

For a listing of all our jazz classes and individual instruction opportunities, see our Lessons and Classes page.
Our Jazz Academy class # is PP.410.100 01

Once you’re ready to register for classes and/or individual instruction, please visit our registration page.

Jazz Performance Academy Saturday Schedule
9:00:-10:00 a.m. Jazz Theory(optional)
10:00-11:00 a.m. Jazz Ambassadors
11:00-12:00 p.m. Jazz Messengers
12:00-12:30 p.m. Jazz Transcription
12:30-1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00-2:00 p.m. Jazz Performance Class

Course Descriptions

Jazz Transcription

The Jazz Transcription Class emphasizes the process and application of acquiring vocabulary through the transcription of selected solos. Topics include a systematic approach to transcribing, harmonic analysis of solos, and practice techniques for incorporating new vocabulary. In addition to transcribing, new repertoire will be introduced as needed for demonstration and application purposes.

Jazz Performance Class

The Jazz Performance Class teaches the core skills needed to be effective jazz improvisers, with particular emphasis on the skills of the soloist. Topics will include:  guide tones, arpeggios, tri-chord patterns, chord-scale relationships, developing vocabulary and symmetric patterns.  Through application of these techniques to standard repertoire students will learn the skills necessary to relate melodic lines to harmonic progressions.  More advanced topics will expand upon this knowledge, covering the development of greater rhythmic and melodic interest, as well as alternate chord progressions and re-harmonization.


Tuition for the Jazz Performance Academy and Individual Instruction can be found in our online course catalog.

Tuition includes: Jazz Performance Class, Jazz Transcription and Jazz Ensemble (either Ambassadors or Messengers). Students are strongly encouraged to take Jazz theory or Music theory, but it is not included in the Academy tuition.

Audition dates:


Woodwinds, brass, piano, guitar and bass:  Performance of all major scales and chromatic scale; Performance of two songs of contrasting style (although the ability to improvise is not required, its demonstration is strongly encouraged); Sight-reading.

Additional Requirements:

Piano and guitar: demonstrate ability to comp in various styles or read a prepared étude
Bass: demonstrate the ability to play in a range of styles and tempos including 4/4 walking, jazz waltz, bossa nova, slow ballad, and rock or funk groove.
Drums: demonstrate the ability to play in a range of styles and tempos (using both sticks and brushes) including swing, jazz waltz, bossa nova, slow ballad, samba, Afro-Cuban, shuffle, and rock or funk groove. Knowledge of scales and the ability to read music required.