Instructional performance workshops are the core program of OJW. These weekly workshops are offered year round during after-school hours at 55 Washington Street, Jack London Square, Oakland. Young musicians from 12 to 18 years of age who have some previous experience with a musical instrument and who wish to develop their skills in the jazz idiom learn alongside peers and professionals in an ensemble environment.
Traditionally, young musicians learned to play jazz by hanging out with more experienced, professional musicians, in their neighborhood and after-hours in bars and nightclubs. In more recent times, young jazz musicians have learned to play in school bands where the focus is on reading music, much like European classical music. By employing professional jazz musicians as instructors, Oaktown Jazz Workshops uses the traditional model to offer a distinctive approach to jazz instruction that gives students a foundation in the jazz fundamentals of improvisation, arranging, and learning to play by ear.
Our students benefit from their instructors' collective years of experience as performers and their highly developed sensitivity to the unique dynamics that set jazz apart from other disciplines. With four teachers (a complete rhythm section!) at each workshop, students have the opportunity to work one-on-one and in small groups with an instructor. We also offer beginning theory and musicianship classes and free or low-cost private lessons.
The educational strategy that drives OJW makes it possible for motivated students to develop professional level expertise, and often receive music scholarships to major universities upon graduation from high school.
Jazz in the Schools, formed in 1998, teams highly skilled Oaktown Jazz Workshops' musician/instructors with advanced students and presents concert/demonstrations in and around the Bay Area. In a 45-minute session, the artists play and talk a little about the history of Jazz, and suggest how to listen to it, involving the students in the discussion.
Director Khalil Shaheed has been a resident artist at Oakland School for the Arts for the last three years. OJW has also done residencies at Fremont High School, and Oakland High School in an effort to expose more youth to this art form. OJW also collaborates with Michael Morgan (Director of Oakland East Bay Symphony) to present concert/demonstrations at elementary and middle schools in Oakland. This collaboration has taken place for over four years.
These presentations feature a classical string or brass quartet and a jazz quintet. Oakland Youth Orchestra director, Michael Morgan, and Khalil Shaheed, director of Oaktown Jazz Workshops, in discussion attempt to show the similarities and differences between classical music and jazz. Mr. Morgan and Mr. Shaheed continue to have a wonderful working relationship, which dates back several years.
Jazz in the Schools has an extensive presenting schedule. In the past we have done concert/demonstrations in Mountain View, Headlsburg, and San Jose, as well as all the middle schools in Oakland.
It is our hope to expose as many young people as possible to this music and help them to realize their ownership in this American art form.
For the past four years OJW in collaboration with Yoshi’s Jazz House has held a series of workshop/clinics featuring world-class jazz musicians playing at the Jack London Square jazz club. The artists graciously have donated time to work with young musicians from the area. These workshop/clinics take place at the club during the artist's residency, after school on a Friday, and have accommodated from 40 to 150 students.
The format changes from artist to artist ranging form straight lecture/demonstration to hands-on jam sessions. Some of the artists who have donated their time are; Branford Marsalis (pictured right), Ellis Marsalis, Jason Marsalis, Gene Harris, Art Farmer, Terrence Blanchard, Nicholas Payton, Arturo Sanduval, Joe Zawinul, Michael Brecker, Billy Higgins, Dave Holland, Winard Harper, George Cables, Steve Turre, Phil Woods and Brian Lynch.
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