Summer Jazz Camp Description

Day Camp, Six Days in August

The AJW August Summer Jazz Camp features internationally acclaimed guest artists and Alaska Master Jazz Artists mentoring with  grade 7 through adult music students to explore the exciting world of music improvisation over Hot Swing, Blues, Funk, and Latin grooves. Beginning to advanced level ensembles are offered.  Classes are held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the UAA Fine Arts Building. Students receive at total of 25 hours of instruction in small combo settings of 5-9 members. Student groups are featured in a Saturday evening Student Recital and the guest jazz artist is featured in the Friday evening AJW Faculty Jazz Ensemble concert. Classes and concerts are held at the UAA Arts Building.

Alaska instructors include: John Damberg and Mark Manners. Alaska guest instructors have included George Pierce, Karen Strid, Cameron Cartland, Yngvil Vatn Guttu, Rick Zelinsky, Bob Andrews, Dirk Westfall, Dan MacElrath, Andy Mullen, Kerry Maule, and George Mancini.

Past Internationally acclaimed guest artists include: Bobby Shew, Kristin Korb, Michael Davis, Mimi Fox, Denis Diblasio, Rebeca Mauleon, Oscar Stagnaro, Allison Miller, Vince Cherico, Carl Saunders, Jovino Santos Neto, Barney McClure, Peggy Stern, Jon Goforth, Joshua Davis, Paul Lucas, Nadine Shanti, and Geoff Baird. (Complete list of Guest Artists)

Beginning Section is for students just beginning to improvise. Students need to know the notes on their instrument, be able to read music and play at least six major scales. This class will focus on developing basic improvisation skills including: music interval, chord, blues, major & minor scales, and key center recognition. Students will explore five songs in the 12 bar blues form in different rhythmic feels including: Funk, Swing, Slow Blues, Bossa Nova, and New Orleans 2nd Line Style March.

Intermediate Section is for students who have past experience improvising in a school group or an AJW group. They need to prove, via a placement audition, they have mastered the basic improvisational skills covered in the AJW Beginning section. These sections focus on soloing over more advanced 32 bar song forms, chord changes and rhythm styles.

Advanced Section will focus on developing song repertoire in a wide variety of styles including: jazz, Blues, Latin, funk, pop,etc. Students will build song repertoirie through reading music, rehearsing as a band, listening and transcribing songs, and through exploring and expressing their inner vocabulary on their instruments. Weekly assignments will be given to promote learning new vocablary, song repertoire, and developing improvisation skills.

Call John Damberg for more information and to schedule your level placement audition at 907-332-3234.

Level Requirements

Beginning Class
Students need to know the notes on their instrument. Be able to read music. Play at least six or more major scales. They must want to learn how to improvise.

Drummers need to know how to keep steady time when playing the following beats:
swing, basic rock, Latin Rock, shuffle, jazz waltz, hip hop, and the 12/8 gospel slow blues beat.

Students agree to come to class prepared to learn by bringing their music books, pencil, drum sticks, and instruments. They also agree to practice their assigned pieces and improvisation exercises.

Students must attend all classes & are required to perform in the student recitals, except in the case of sickness and family or national emergencies.

Intermediate Class
Students need to prove, via a placement audition, they have mastered the basic music theory and improvisational skills covered in the AJW Beginning section including:
Interval recognition, Knowledge of major scales, the modes of the major scale, and blues scales in C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, and A concert.

Knowledge of how to form  the basic 3 note triads and 4 note 7th. chords. Ability to solo on the 12 bar blues form. Ability to play the following song melodies and solo on them- Bag’s Groove, Watermelon Man, Blue Bossa, Mercy, Mercy , Mercy, and Tenor Madness.

Advanced Class
Students should be able to sight-read music and improvise at the intermediate to advanced level. They should have at least two years of experience playing in a school jazz ensemble or one of the AJW Jazz Ensembles. 

Students should be able to solo effectively over the more advanced chord changes in the following songs including: Take the A Train, Tune Up, Four, Road Song, In a Sentimental Mood, and the Chicken. 

Audition Information

Level Placement Auditions:
New students and students wanting to move to the next class level must schedule a level placement audition with John Damberg.

Auditions last one hour.
Students will be asked to do the following:

  • All Students should be prepared to perform one prepared piece of music that demonstrates their current playing level
  • Play any major and blues scales they may know,
  • Sight-read music
  • Improvise on a song that demonstrates their playing ability from a simple 12 bar blues song to a more complex 32 bar standard song form.
  • Students will be asked music theory questions to determine their knowledge level.

Please contact John Damberg to set up auditions at: (907) 332-3234.


Book Requirements
All Classes:  The Jazz Language, by Dan Hearle, $15

Beginner Class:
Maiden Voyage Vol. 54, by Jamey Aebersold (Book & CD) $15
Real Easy Book Level 1  (3 horn edition) in C, Bb, Eb, B Cl, by Sher Music Co., $28
Essential Elements of Jazz  in C, Bb, Eb, B Cl, by Mike Steinel, Hal Leonard Pub. $16

Intermediate and Advanced Classes:
Real Easy Book Vol.2, by Sher Music, in C, Bb, Eb, B. Cl, $25
The Real Book 6th Edition, Hal Leonard Pub., $40

The books are available at Alaska Music and Sound (the Horn Doctor), at the Music Man, and online too.