This online class will meet weekly on Mondays, running January 9th - March 13th.
Chord symbols are the primary way musicians communicate harmonic ideas quickly and easily. Knowing your chord symbols can be the difference between spontaneously sitting in at a jam session and watching from the audience because you don't know the tune. Developing your ability to interpret and realize chord symbols on your instrument opens up a whole world of jazz and popular music.
One of the most experienced and fun teachers in the Pacific Northwest, Ben Thomas D.M.A. examines the conventions and applications of the written musical language of chord symbols. It aims to establish a solid theoretical and aural foundation for students to build on and utilize in improvisation, interpretation, transcription, and composition. All common chord symbol types, up to and including 7ths, will be covered in detail using intervals and sound as the primary method.
At the conclusion of the class, students can expect to accurately interpret most chord symbols that will be encountered on basic jazz lead sheets.
“Chord symbol spelling is highly idiosyncratic and highly contentious. Everyone wants to believe that their preferred method of spelling chords is the One True Way. In reality, what is considered correct is determined by consensus within communities, not by the strict application of rules. That said, there are practical reasons to prefer chord symbols that are concise, compact, consistent, unambiguous, and visually distinct from one another.”
- Darcy James Argue
Homework: Recommended homework and practice schedule will vary from week to week. Instructor will provide weekly homework assignments and give feedback on student work throughout the quarter.
Students requirements: Regular attendance is critical for maximizing learning in online classes. Regular practice and study outside of class increases knowledge retention, builds skills faster, and promotes integration of skills into student performance.
This is a 10 week class, meeting online once a week for 90 minutes. Students need a free Zoom Video Conferencing account to attend. More information about live online class participation is available below.
There are no prerequisites for this course.
Beginning, intermediate, or advanced
Jazz Night School is a vibrant and welcoming community-based nonprofit music education program that is home to hundreds of like-minded learners. Our school offers great opportunities to meet other dedicated jazz students and artists. Whatever your skill level, we have a place for you.
Schedule a skills assessment
We strongly encourage all new students to schedule a complimentary skills assessment so we can help you figure out the best place to start.
At this time, Jazz Night School is providing live online classes and we are welcoming students from all locations.
What is it like to learn with us?
As a student at Jazz Night School, you'll be part of a friendly, supportive community that shares a love and deep appreciation for jazz music in all its various forms. Your development as a musician is our primary educational goal. Whatever your skill level, our program can help you improve your musicianship and discover your own unique musical voice. For new students, we provide a complimentary introductory session that includes a skills assessment. This session gives you a chance to share your goals and interests and helps us point you to the most appropriate offerings. Each quarter we offer a wide variety of classes and workshops on improvisation, harmony, ear-training, and specialized topics. Our online classes feature lots of discussion and opportunity for questions and answers. There are no grades at Jazz Night School; rather, instructors give each student individual feedback on an ongoing basis. Everyone's effort is valued. When public health restrictions are relaxed, we will return to offering group ensemble opportunities that culminate in a short performance at a local nightclub. This is a fun-filled evening where friends and family come to applaud student efforts and cheer them on to new heights of musical expression!
We understand that most of our students have important life commitments such as work and family. There may be days that you have to deal with a sick child or a pressing work deadline and you aren't able to put in as much practice time as you would have liked. We get it. Our goal is to support your musical aspirations at whatever pace you are able to sustain at this time in your life.
Jazz Night School instructors are some of the finest musicians and educators in Seattle’s vibrant jazz community. Some have learned their art through old school traditions and others have studied at premier institutions such as Berklee College of Music, Eastman, Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, and University of Miami.
Participation in live online classes at JNSParticipants are expected to treat online class meetings as if they were attending class in the JNS building, which includes behaving professionally, treating others with courtesy and respect, refraining from using profanity or socially offensive language, wearing appropriate clothing, and avoiding inappropriate surroundings.
Students need to have and use a camera and microphone when attending web-conference class meetings. Students are expected to join from a suitable, quiet location with a device that permits participation in the class activities.
Before you start
Before attending your first Zoom live session, we ask that you complete the following tasks:
- Install the Zoom app on your computer, and enter the Zoom classroom test link.
- Review our best practices for attending a Zoom classroom live session.
- Familiarize yourself with the Zoom platform by reviewing the provided content.
Installing and joining a Zoom meeting
If you have never joined a Zoom meeting before, you will be prompted to download and install a Zoom application the first time you join a meeting.
Here is a short video that walks you through the process of installing Zoom and joining a meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iap0Ffl5Lg
Use the link below to access a test Zoom classroom. Accessing this test Zoom classroom will ensure that you have the Zoom app installed and that your internet connection, speakers, and microphone are all working properly and are compatible with the platform. Click to Join Meeting Test.
Zoom Best Practices
Please take time to familiarize yourself with the Zoom best practices below to help you and your fellow participants have a great experience in each live session:
- Restart/reboot your computer before the start of your meeting, at least within the prior 24 hours.
- Ensure you have a fast, stable internet connection. Wired connection is recommended; use wireless only if reliable. This will help ensure your connection does not falter or drop during the meeting. Avoid using any form of free public wi-fi (i.e., coffee shops, hotels, etc.). You can connect with wireless but quality may be poor.
- Secure a quiet, distraction-free physical location to attend your session.
- Do not join the session from a cell phone while driving/commuting in a car.
- Avoid having more than one computer or device within earshot logged into the same meeting, as it may cause a distracting echo effect for ALL participants in the session.
- Use a headset, not desktop speakers. This will help to ensure an echo-free meeting environment. Better yet, use a USB media headset which also includes a microphone. Connect it, and install the driver BEFORE entering the online meeting.
- Tablets may not have all the features that the computer versions of the Zoom app have.
- If your audio is not working well, you can try turning your video off.
- Students who are playing for the instructor should probably have their microphone's "Original Sound turned on" (indicated by the label in the top left corner of the screen "Turn off Original Sound").
Below are some Zoom video tutorials that you can watch to familiarize yourself with the platform before your first live session. Take particular note of how to mute and un-mute yourself.
The following are Jazz Night School’s policies—please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Registration and Payments
Ensemble registration is not solely on a first-come, first-serve basis. Roster requirements and student requests (1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices) factor into the assembly of each ensemble. Ensemble placements will be announced just prior to the beginning of the session.
Payment of tuition and fees is due upon registration for Jazz Night School, and attendance requires payment in full by the first meeting of a session (unless special arrangements have been made). Payments can be made by cash, check, or credit card. Please note: Tuition not received in full by the first meeting of a session will incur additional $10 charges per week.
Offerings may be cancelled if there are not enough students enrolled.
Annual Registration Fee
A yearly registration fee is required from Jazz Night School Fall, Winter, and Spring Session participants. Our school year runs from September through August and only one registration fee is required per year, regardless of the number of offerings a participant enrolls in. Summer Program participants are not required to pay the annual registration fee.
Late Payment Fees
Unless special arrangements have been made, tuition not received in full by the end of the first week of a session will incur additional $10 charges per week delinquent.
Bounced checks will incur a $50 fee.
Classes and Ensembles—There will be no credits, refunds or make-ups for absence or withdrawal by student. Homework assignments may be provided upon request. Make-ups will be scheduled for any instructor absences.
Refunds cannot be given once classes/ensembles have begun.
Jazz Night School’s goal is to make opportunities available to everyone. Partial and full tuition waivers are available. Learn more at our Tuition Assistance page.
JNS Instructors and staff are here to help you. Ensemble students should expect that a majority of their rehearsal time is spent playing music, that individual feedback will be given every week, and that learning music aurally and/or orally (without printed music) will be encouraged whenever possible.
Student Code of Conduct
JNS strives to provide an empowering environment for everyone to develop their authentic musical voice. We emphasize positive collaboration through listening and appreciation of the contributions of fellow students. Be supportive, kind, respectful, and civil to fellow students and instructors. Respect each person’s unique set of challenges and gifts. Students who are unable to conduct themselves in this manner may be asked by instructor(s) or staff to leave or stop attending their JNS studies, may forfeit tuition, and may lose the privilege of future enrollment. Students are asked to come to class prepared but we prefer attendance even if students are not able to prepare. Each student will have the opportunity to advocate for their own musical development - ask questions, make suggestions, and share your concerns with your instructor or staff. If you have to miss a class or performance, no problem - but please email your instructor and/or fellow students to let them know.
Please leave all areas completely free of all trash and personal items. No food, drink, or gum in the rehearsal rooms and no objects on the pianos. Eating is permitted at the lobby window counter. Students are expected to assist with the upkeep of common areas, rehearsal rooms, and equipment by returning all items they use to their proper locations (for example but not limited to music stands, cymbals, mic stands, amplifiers). Use the student door code (provided to students at the beginning of each term) to enter the building. If you forget your code, please wait for another student to arrive; do not ask students in class to open the door for you, as it is disruptive to the classes. Instructors and students are welcome to use the JNS copy machine for JNS printing needs.
Practice Room Booking
Enrolled JNS students are welcome to use un-booked rehearsal room time for their personal practice. Booking and use of rooms by non JNS students for lessons or other rehearsals are also welcome for $15/hour (if commerce is involved).
The end-of-session performances are a vitally important culminating experience. They are your opportunity to communicate with your authentic musical voice to a friendly and enthusiastic crowd. Be sure to enter the end-of-session performance date(s) in your calendar at the beginning of every session. The end-of-session performances are an opportunity to showcase all of your hard work during the session. For the performances, be sure to dress to impress and invite your friends & family. JNS staff will work hard to accommodate any performance time change requests, but may not always manage to rearrange the schedule, especially at the last minute.
Recording, Performance, and Photography Release
All performances presented by Jazz Night School (JNS) students/ensembles/performing groups and any persons performing or working with them (known collectively hereafter as “Students”) as part of JNS’s curricular or extra-curricular events may be audiotaped, filmed, videotaped or photographed. In addition, JNS may engage in commercial audio recording, film, video and photography projects featuring its Students.
JNS reserves all rights to these audio recordings, films, videotapes or photographs (known collectively hereafter as “Recordings”), including the right to broadcast, license, assign, and distribute the Recordings and derivatives thereof in all media, for any purpose and without limitation.
All Students assign to JNS all copyright and other rights in such performances and Recordings, including any rights to proceeds earned from commercial distribution or other use of the Recordings. In addition, Students’ names and likenesses in the published materials associated with these Recordings may be used by JNS and its agents. JNS is released from any claims arising out of broadcast, commercial distribution and promotion of these recordings. All rights in and to a composition will remain sole property of the composer(s). The Recordings may also be used to promote JNS and its programs.
Jazz Night School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability, use of service animals, national or ethnic origin, or any other trait or characteristic protected by law in admission of otherwise qualified students; in providing access to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at Jazz Night School; or in its administration of educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid, and other school-administered programs.