Jazz Combo   

Learn the basics of jazz improvisation while playing with fellow jazz students!

Musicians entering grades 7 +, who can read music and who want to advance their playing and improvisational skills. The standard jazz combo consists of piano, bass, guitar, drums and one or two “horns” (sax, trumpet, trombone, etc.) but there are no restrictions on what instruments may participate. Combo class participants can play saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, flute, vibes, guitar, bass, piano, voice, and drums. One can improvise jazz on any instrument. We are always looking for pianists, bassists and drummers, since those instruments are always in demand in combos!

The total cost is $300 per semester or $75 a month. Fees cover music and other learning materials, and a t-shirt (worn for workshops and performances). There are a limited number of partial or full scholarships available. Applications for scholarships are by request only. Please email jan@charlestonjazz.com or call 843-745-5908 for inquiries.

The combos meet for 14 weeks each semester for 1.5 hours. The registration form below will ask you to select your preferred time and day. Please email jan@charlestonjazz.com or call 843-745-5908 for inquiries. 

Charleston Jazz Academy
3005 West Montague Avenue, Suite 200
North Charleston, SC 29418    

Students will register for a combo at their current ability level.  

Beginner Level 
Our combos for beginners are best for players who…

  • Know all the notes on their instrument
  • Are new to improvising or have a bit of experience playing in school band or a workshop like this
  • Have some or no training in jazz music theory
  • Are just beginning to learn about how to improvise over a song
  • Pianists and guitarists should know their notes and be familiar with some chords
  • Drummers should be able to keep steady time and have some experience playing a drum set
  • Vocalists should be able to sing an octave range, sing on pitch and to read notes

Intermediate Level 
Our combos for intermediate players are best for anyone who…

  • Has played in school jazz bands
  • Can improvise over the blues with the blues scale
  • Is working on “playing the changes”—hitting chord tones and using the correct scale for each chord while improvising
  • Has developed at least a beginning understanding of jazz music theory and chord progressions like the ii-V-I

Advanced Level

Advanced players…

  • Have multiple years of experience improvising (have taken multiple solos) over tunes in jazz band or while playing in jazz combos
  • Are comfortable improvising over ii-V-I’s and other chord progressions in multiple keys
  • Can play swing, Latin, and jazz waltz tunes with a good sense of time and feel

*Note: if a specific combo level does not fill, we will place a student in his/her next closest level.

Performance Opportunities:  

Students in the combo will perform at least once each semester. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in free workshops presented at the Charleston Jazz Academy and attend Charleston Jazz Orchestra performances for free.