Jazz Workshops – Middle School

Leitmotif Middle School Jazz Workshop – Summer 2022
Venue: Leitmotif Studio, Watertown, MA
Instructors: Ramona Borthwick, Noel Borthwick

Includes five 2.5 hour sessions, culminating in a live performance that will be livestreamed. Interested students/parents? e-mail to reserve a spot.

[View clips from our past workshops for high school students]

  • This is a beginner level workshop, where students are introduced to the basics of improvisation, developing musicianship, jazz phrasing and soloing in a relaxed environment.
  • Middle school instrumentalists (brass, strings, woodwind, piano, guitar, drums) keen to explore jazz and learn improvisation, get an opportunity to be part of a small group jazz combo.
  • Introduction to jazz theory – basic understanding scales/harmony for the tune, form and harmonic progressions.
  • Practical application of music fundamentals learnt in private lessons such as pitch, tone, color, expression, dynamics and rhythm in an ensemble
  • Students already part of jazz bands and ensembles in private/public schools will greatly benefit from these workshops, since we focus on skills not typically emphasized during school rehearsals. The hope is that these workshops provide a foundation for young students to strengthen their jazz performance skills and carry them over into school bands and other jazz ensembles that they are part of.

We meet over five sessions, once every 2-3 weeks which gives every student time to process assignments and practice for the next session. At the end of each session, assignments will be given to each student/instrumentalist to aid absorption of the musical materials. The series culminates in a live performance that will be livestreamed.

COVID Guidelines:
– It is required that all participants be vaccinated.
– Please remain home if showing symptoms such as fever, sore throat, chills, cough, shortness of breath, congestion, nausea, or vomiting.


Is there an audition or are there any prerequisites for being part of this group?
Students must have a desire to improvise, learn the jazz language. They should have skills on their instrument to read music, play major/minor scales. Parents, please submit two audio or video tracks that display what your child does best.

How can I sign up my child for theses workshop series?
Contact me if interested – please include your name and contact, audition audio/video links and briefly outline your child’s musical experience.

How is this different from attending jazz band at school?
Students already part of jazz bands and ensembles in private/public schools will greatly benefit from these workshops, since we focus on skills not emphasized during school rehearsals. Students also benefit from individual mentoring and are given specifically tailored assignments.

Will students learn how to improvise in 5 sessions?
Jazz improvisation is a skill that requires dedicated practice over many years. Listening, honing your chops on your instrument, imitation and learning the jazz vocabulary are just some of the broader aspects of learning. Assuming that you already take regular lessons for general technique, playing in this ensemble will reinforce this technique.

[If you need specific help with jazz/general music theory, ear-training and improvisation, you can consider private lessons for your child with me. My jazz students include horn and string players, pianists & singers, who have in common the desire to learn jazz and improvise.  It is highly recommended that single-note instrumentalists and singers be familiar with theory and harmony. If your teacher does not offer theory/jazz improvisation lessons, you should continue studying your instrument with your teacher, but you can take a few lessons with me to explore areas you need help with and make your journey into jazz easier].

My child is classically trained, but is interested in improvising. Will this be a good fit?
Many of our workshop participants train classically as well. Being classically trained for several years before having made the ‘transition’ into jazz myself, I understand that despite having several years of training at the instrument, improvisation can be a daunting prospect. My jazz students include classically trained pianists, horn and string players, who bring to the instrument technical skills and a knowledge of classical music theory, but have the desire to stretch their creative boundaries. You can book me for a private lesson or a block of lessons that should help your child in determining if improvisation is something he/she may be interested in.

Will I get a refund if I miss a session?
Please note that ensemble and workshop fees are non-refundable, unless the workshop is cancelled. There are no make-ups for classes or ensembles missed by the student.

(High school students):

[View past workshops.]