Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Mark Your Calendar! A-JAM Auditions - Monday and Tuesday Before Thanksgiving, Nov 20-21

Audition to become part of this year's A-JAM program! Make your appointment today. Auditions are the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving. That's Nov 20-21, 2017. Contact Dr. Katchie Cartwright at 210-486-4828 for more information and to schedule your audition. Check our Facebook page and the Palmetto Arts calendar for breaking news...

Auditions are open to all fulltime students at any of the five Alamo Colleges and Trinity University.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of a college-level course in improvisation. You can be taking one this term, provided you pass the course. :-) If you're not currently enrolled, try to enroll in MUAP 1185: Private Improvisation for Flex II. There are multiple instructors for this course on multiple campuses within the Alamo Colleges system. Contact your music department chair or discipline coordinator for more information.

This year's IASJ international jazz meeting will be hosted by the Viljandi Culture Academy-Tartu University in Viljandi, Estonia. One lucky student will get to participate in this life-changing intercultural experience. It could be you this year!


Auditions for the A-JAM program are held annually--the week before Thanksgiving--by appointment only. To join A-JAM in the spring term, you must have successfully completed a basic course in improvisation, which is offered in the fall semester.

Prepare: 2 contrasting jazz pieces of your choice

Bring: 3 copies of your written music (lead sheets, C-concert)

Scales/arpeggios: Major and minor, all keys

Sightreading: chordal (lead sheet), rhythmic, and melodic


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"One of the Greatest Musical Experiences of My Life" - International Jazz Meeting in Siena

Drummer Liam Dixon, a student at Palo Alto College, reports on his week in Italy at the exciting international jazz meeting of the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ), the capstone event of the A-JAM program below... 
"The 2017 IASJ jazz meeting in Siena, Italy has got to be one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. Not only did I get to travel to Europe without any expenses, I was able to make music with some of the greatest musicians I have ever met, all while learning from some of the greatest jazz educators from schools across the world. 
A-JAM student Liam Dixon in Siena, Italy (2017)
When we arrived at our destination, my teacher Joe and I were both in awe of how beautiful Siena was. It was truly amazing. On our first night, after we checked into our hotel, we freshened up and went down to the Piazza del Campo to see the first performance from the Siena University jazz band, featuring the incredible Dave Liebman. And before seeing the performance, we met some fellow IASJ students from Austria, Andreas Liebminger and Win Pongsakorn. We immediately became friends and remained friends throughout the duration of the trip.
 Liam's group, ready to perform
The next day we all met together and had our auditions, which was very laid back, the students were formed into random combos and played songs from the IASJ top 10 list. After our auditions we were selected again at random to form our groups that we would be playing in for the concert, and later that same night we had our first rehearsal. The rest of the week we would have masterclasses and lectures in the morning, which were all incredible and full of great information, followed by a short break and then rehearsal. After our rehearsals we would have lunch and then free time till we met at the jam sessions which were every night at a different beautiful venue. This had to be my favorite part of the experience. During the jam sessions we got to socialize with all the other musicians and teachers over delicious food and drinks all while jamming with other students and teachers.
The night of the concert was very similar to the jam sessions, we were all enjoying ourselves while listening to the hard work that the other students put into their music. This is where I had my life changing experience. Watching all the other groups play their original pieces and seeing how advanced they are at their instrument and craft is truly both eye-opening and motivating. After the concert I made a list of all the things I need to work on. And I believe I wouldn't have done that without this trip.

Liam Dixon (with arm around teacher Jeff Siegal) and his combo
Words cannot describe how truly happy and inspired I was during this whole experience. Meeting some of the greatest people who share the same love for music that I do and getting the opportunity to better myself at my craft all while traveling to new places and enjoying myself is a truly priceless experience. I want to give a huge thank you to Katchie Cartwright, Joe Caploe and everyone involved with A-JAM and IASJ."
Liam's sentiments were echoed by his teacher, drummer Joe Caploe, who describes the event below. 

IASJ drummers (Liam in the center, Joe Caploe far right)
"The conference began on July 8 with an evening concert with the Siena Jazz University Orchestra featuring Dave Liebman at the beautiful Piazza del Campo. The Siena Jazz University Orchestra sounded great and so did Dave Liebman. It was a nice way to begin the conference in a stunning setting. We registered on July 9 in the morning and went to a 10am meeting followed by auditions for for the student combos. Later that afternoon combo rehearsals began from 3-5:30 and went every day to prepare concerts that took place on Thursday and Friday evening.
Every day was started with a meeting, then an hour of masterclasses, lunch combo rehearsals and evening jam sessions. On Tuesday evening there was a teachers concert which was a great opportunity for those of us who hadnʼt meet to play music and get to know each. All of the students and teachers were outstanding musicians and the vibe was very friendly and productive. The combo rehearsals were collaborative and I had the pleasure of coaching a combo with Jean-Charles Richard a sax player from Paris who teaches at Pole Superieur Paris. Our combo played three original compositions by the students and one each by Jean-Charles and I. In the evening there were jam sessions and Liam sat in every night, I played a little myself. The sessions were really good and in different gorgeous outdoor locations in various contradas in Siena. Couldnʼt have asked for more beautiful settings to play music. The weather was perfect and the level of playing of all was outstanding.
Liam and his combo performing

The Thursday and Friday student evening concerts were inspiring! All the students made incredible growth during the week and worked very hard to prepare for the concerts. I was very proud of Liamʼs performance and Jeff Siegal(drummer) who was a coach for Liamʼs combo said he made great improvement during the rehearsals. The material Liamʼs combo played was challenging and he was up for it and played very well. He told me that me was very inspired by the whole experience and wants to work real hard to keep the momentum going from the conference, I feel the same way. Siena is a gorgeous and stunning city. I canʼt imagine nicer location for the conference. It was an honor to participate and represent Northwest Vista College at the conference. We both made many new friends, made great music and learned from all the participants. "
It could be you next year! Auditions for the A-JAM program are held the week of Thanksgiving. Stay tuned to this blog and our Facebook. Contact Dr. Katchie Cartwright via email or phone 210-486-4828 for more information.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

KRTU's Annual A-JAM Broadcast - This Week!

2017 A-JAM combo at KRTU studios
Set your radio dial to 91.7 FM or tune in online at this Thursday, July 6 at 7 PM and Saturday July 8 at 5 PM for this year's annual broadcast of the A-JAM combo on KRTU's "South Texas Jazz Project." 

Liam Dixon
The combo was led by the 2017 A-JAM honoree, drummer Liam Dixon, a student in the jazz program at Palo Alto College, which is led by trombonist Dr. Armin Marmolejo.

Francis Stromboe
The ensemble featured 2016 A-JAM awardee Francis Stromboe on guitar, Dylan Ilseng on bass, and Liam's drum teacher Joe Caploe on vibes.  The show is produced by KRTU Operations Manager Emilio Alvarez and includes interviews with Liam and the other participants by General Manager JJ Lopez.

Liam Dixon and Joe Caploe were chosen to represent the A-JAM program at this year's international jazz meeting in Siena, Italy, sponsored by the IASJ (International Association of Schools of Jazz). They are set to fly to Italy on Friday, July 7, for an exciting week of intensive jazz performance and study.
Joe Caploe

We wish them the best and are eager to hear about their experience upon their return. Stay tuned! It could be you next year, students...

For more about the program, find A-JAM Jazz Mentorship on Facebook or contact A-JAM Program Director and Professor of Music at Northwest Vista College, Dr. Katchie Cartwright, 210-486-4828.
Siena, Italy, site of the 2017 IASJ Jazz Meeting

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Student and Faculty Chosen to Represent A-JAM at International Jazz Meeting in Siena

Exciting news! This year's International Jazz Meeting, presented by the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) will be held in beautiful Siena, Italy from July 8-15, 2017. This is the "jewel in the crown" of the A-JAM program; the moment when our students and world-class adjunct faculty gain access to the incredible global field of jazz performance and education.

More exciting than that is that our student, Palo Alto College drummer Liam Dixon, and his applied teacher, Adjunct Instructor and drummer Joe Caploe, have been chosen to represent the Alamo Colleges at this prestigious annual event.

Please join us in congratulating Liam and Joe, and stay tuned for upcoming local events prior to the International Jazz Meeting. Read more about this fantastic meeting here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Berklee College of Music Holds Regional Auditions at Northwest Vista!

Berklee College of Music holds its regional auditions at Palmetto Center for the Arts at Northwest Vista College every year. This year's auditions are Friday, February 17, 2017. More information is here:

Audition and Interview

Berklee's unique audition and interview experience is an integral part of how we select our entering class. We design it to help you show your strengths and to help us assess your talent and potential to succeed in our dynamic environment. It's a required part of the admissions review, and allows us to consider you for scholarships.
  • Although there is a general format for the audition and interview, each experience is unique—just like you.
  • We strongly encourage you to visit Berklee's campus in Boston to participate in the audition and interview; tour our facilities; and meet with faculty, students, and staff.
If you'd like to get better prepared for applying or going to Berklee, enroll in a free online course.

Your Audition

The audition will be approximately 15 minutes long and may consist of the following parts:
  • a prepared piece of your choice;
  • an improvisation over a harmonic vamp, simple-form blues, or standard tune;
  • a reading selection; and/or
  • melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ear training exercises.
At the discretion of each audition team, a jam with the faculty and/or technical exercises might be part of your audition. Please refer to the audition checklist for further details about each component of the audition.
We recognize that it is common for applicants to have imbalances in their playing abilities, and we realize that applicants may not have advanced skills in improvisation, reading, or ear training. In fact, this is exactly why you might apply to attend Berklee: to develop your skills in these and other areas. Because we take a holistic approach in our evaluation process, each component of the audition helps the audition team assess your overall abilities as a musician and your potential for success at the college level.

Practice Exercises


For a detailed description of the audition components, click on the instrumental department links below:
  • Bass
    Acoustic Bass, Electric Bass
  • Brass
    Baritone Horn, Bass Trombone, French Horn, Trombone, Trumpet, Tuba
  • Guitar
  • Percussion
    Drum Set, Hand Percussion, Marimba, Orchestral Percussion, Vibraphone
  • Piano
  • Strings
    Banjo, Cello, Harp, Mandolin, Viola, Violin
  • Voice
  • Woodwinds
    Bassoon, Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Saxophone

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

2017 A-JAM Fellow Announced

The A-JAM program is pleased to announce the 2016/2017 A-JAM student fellow. The judges noted that each year the bar becomes higher, as new and returning students come into the audition with increasingly honed skills and experiences. Congrats to all participants. Onward and upward! This year's A-JAM awardee is drummer Liam Dixon from Palo Alto College. His applied music instructor is Joe Caploe. Below is his bio and a personal statement about why he became interested in A-JAM. Please join us in wishing Liam the best! Stay tuned for more about his activities...
Liam Dixon

"My name is Liam Dixon. I was born in Phoenix, Arizona but have lived in San Antonio the majority of my life. Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. My mother was always very musically talented, she played the Violin and the Viola as a child for bands in Mexico and later played Guitar in our church choir. She was also a very gifted singer. I must have gotten the musical talent from her. I first began playing the drums at 10 years old, I remember being completely obsessed with any and all things drumming. When I first started out I would experiment and try to mimic what I would see and hear from songs or videos. Whenever I had trouble with an idea or wanted to learn more, I would go onto YouTube to see videos or use any books or instructional DVDs I had. 

Joe Caploe
I never had any formal lessons on how to read music or play specific styles of drumming and percussion until I reached high school, where I decided to do band from there on out. While in high school I wanted to do anything where I can showcase the skills I had achieved through my years of drumming before, so I decided to join the jazz band. I felt very much drawn to jazz because the concept of jazz was very unstructured and leaned more towards freedom of expression. Joining the jazz band in high school completely opened up a world of possibilities and ideas for drumming and music that I would have never imagined had I not joined. So much so, that in my sophomore through senior year of high school I made the top chairs at region jazz and in my junior and senior year I made the TMEA All-State Jazz ensembles. All of these experiences made Jazz and music in general, grow into a passion.

I would like to do the A-JAM program because it would give me another opportunity to grow as a musician, while also giving me the chance to meet and play with people from around the world who share a common passion for jazz that I do."