A musical education | AspenTimes.com

Daniel Cohen, front, with other students practicing during the JAS Academy big band session with Grammy-winning bassist Christian McBride as principal of Colorado Mountain College in Aspen.
Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times

The 2022 Jazz Aspen Snowmass JAS Academy returns to the Roaring Fork Valley on Sunday, having expanded the program to twice its size last year. The dual-function offering features 42 student performers over a month-long period in various locations around Aspen and Snowmass.

“In 2021, we have expanded the JAS Academy from a single two-week session to two two-week sessions. The first session is for existing small ensembles with four participating groups,” said Andrea Beard, senior vice president of JAS.” The second session is the Big Band session. Students were selected for each instrument or vocal element of a big band.

And, as always, these student musicians are the crème de la crème. Nineteen students make up the first session, and a total of 23 students are in the big band session. The 42 students represent 14 of the top music schools in the country.

Local listeners can expect the return of some of their favorite school bands including North Texas, University of Miami, Julliard, Berklee, Manhattan School of Music and Michigan State. But a few new institutions have entered this summer, such as Temple, Elmhurst University and Rutgers.

“Audiences are constantly blown away by the level of musical ability these students have,” Beard said. “Each is on the verge of a professional career and has been selected based on their talent. They already know how to play when they get here – and how to play well.

The JAS Academy not only showcases these talents but also aims to put these students on the right path as they embark on a career in a sometimes challenging industry.

“When they’re at the academy, a lot of what they learn is less about their playing skills and more about how to use them and succeed at the next level,” she said.

This includes several teaching sessions on the music business, learning how to market yourself as artists and performers, developing a stage presence and practicing playing in front of a crowd.

“When you see them perform, you will not only witness their great talent, but you will also learn about their individual personalities as they learn more about expressing themselves and connecting with their audiences while they are here in town. “, she said.

The public can discover these artists as they appear for free, or for the most part for free. In addition to sets performed at The Collective, The Jerome Hotel, and the two Limelight Hotels, other highlights include the closing performances, where the students bring together everything they learned during their two-week session and present these experiences, musical style. Respectively, these will be the band’s performances at the JAS Café on July 21 at the Aspen Art Museum and the Big Band’s performance at the Wheeler Opera House on August 6. Christian McBride, eight-time Grammy®-winning bassist and artistic director of the JAS Academy will conduct The Wheeler show.

As for what makes the academy special, Beard said the fact that it’s Aspen — both the scenery and the welcoming local scene — is a big draw.

“For its beauty and for the welcome they feel from the community, each academy is special. At each performance, students are approached by attendees who want to know more about them and their journey. also offers them suggestions on what to see and do in Aspen. They always come away with new friends and experiences unique to our home,” she said. “In addition, many students who attended in the past have ended up returning to JAS stages in a bigger way, many as members or band leaders at the JAS Café or JAS June Experience shows.The locals recognize them, reconnect with them and make them feel new like at home.

“These are brilliantly talented young artists who are here because of their talent,” said Jim Horowitz, Founder, President and CEO of JAS. “We believe they have what it takes to succeed in this very difficult business, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure they feel welcomed with open arms.”


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