Spartan Youth Jazz

SYJ at Spec

Spartan Youth Jazz (SYJ) provides high-quality jazz education for high school-age students. The program is for students who play saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, upright/electric bass and drum set, but other instruments are welcome. Jazz vocalists and youth who want to learn to sing jazz are also accepted.

Spartan Youth Jazz Programs

SYJ begins Wednesday September 12 and rehearses on Wednesday nights from 5:45-8:45 p.m., September and May (30 weeks). The curriculum includes studio classes, combo playing, a big band, and diverse electives such as jazz improvisation, jazz composition, jazz theory and transcription, and more. 

SYJ is led by acclaimed jazz artist/educator Sean Dobbins, Director and percussion faculty, and a faculty of Detroit’s leading names in jazz:

  • Rayse Biggs, Trumpet
  • Tony Buccilli, Trombone
  • Steve Wood, Woodwinds
  • William S. Gwinnell, Piano, Voice, and Composition
  • Cory Allen, Guitar
  • Marion Hayden, Bass
  • Athena Johnson, Voice

Additionally, students participate in masterclasses with the MSU College of Music Jazz Studies faculty and world-renowned visiting guest artists.

SYJ performs at local venues including Cliff Bell’s historic Detroit jazz club and other locations. Each spring, the SYJ Big Band travels to East Lansing to participate in all-day workshops as part of the MSU Jazz Spectacular and compete in the Essentially Ellington Regional High School Big Band Competition. The SYJ Big Band 

SYJ provides an entry-point for high school musicians who are experienced on their instruments but are  learning to play jazz. It also develops advanced students who are preparing for a career as a collegiate or professional musician as well as teaching valuable life skills.

SYJ nurtures students through a real-world connection to Detroit’s legendary jazz tradition, while helping them build skills such as creativity, innovation, independence, leadership, self-confidence and more.

A placement audition is required for this program, to determine the ensemble and/or combo that fits your level best. Send your audition video or recording to cmsd@msu.edu attn: Perry Holmes or call (313) 578-9716. We are now accepting auditions for the  as well as our Fall 2018-Spring 2019 semesters.