After registering for camp, be sure to visit your online account for the Student Download package that contains many helpful preparation documents, forms, and even some audio play along tracks!

A message from Don Braden:

Dear Jazz Camp Student,
Welcome to a musically challenging and fulfilling time at the Litchfield Jazz Camp! Here is some information that will help you get the most from your experience. See the accompanying “Jazz Camp Preparation” document for more details.

Before you come, take some time to think about what you would like to get out of your time at Jazz Camp. Write down some goals to meet and any questions for the faculty. Get prepared to seek out what you want. This will certainly increase the possibility that you’ll have an illuminating and interesting experience. Some examples of goals are: “improve control of my sound”, “learn how to remember tunes better“, “develop stronger rhythm”, or “become better at improvising over chords.” You can also consider something like “improve my posture” or “learn more about the music business”. Next, have a look at the Sample Daily Schedule and the class descriptions to get a feel for what happens during Camp and when. This will help you organize your preparation and the pursuit of your goals.

In general, make sure you establish or maintain a consistent practice routine. In particular, all wind players should practice long tones over the full range of their instrument every day. We play a lot at jazz camp, so make sure to build up (or maintain) your endurance. Also, listen to as much jazz music as you can — a thorough grasp of the “sound” of jazz is absolutely essential to playing it well. Check out the jazz masters, including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Roy Haynes, Sonny Rollins, Ron Carter and Herbie Hancock, to name a few. See my “Jazz Resources” for more guidance.

Based on the skill level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) you indicated on your application, you should study the scales assigned for that level in the “Jazz Camp Preparation” doc. Practice memorizing tunes and work on your improvisational skills. Students coming for more than one week should come for placement each Sunday as you will play in different combos each week.

Review the sample theory assessment. You will be given a similar assessment when you arrive for placement purposes. If jazz theory is new to you, try to familiarize yourself with some basic concepts. Spending some time on the piano (more on this below) is very beneficial.

Drummers and percussionists should prepare by learning the following: the 12-bar blues form, the 16-bar song form (such as Summertime), and the 32-bar song form (such as Autumn Leaves). You should become familiar with the melodies of those or similar tunes by playing them on the drums.

Vocalists should prepare by working on 1-2 octaves of each scale in your skill level. You can play the notes on the piano at first and sing along. Work on some standard tunes, like the ones mentioned above. For tunes without lyrics, vocalists should prepare by learning to sing the melody from a lead sheet. Vocalists should learn and memorize the lyrics to as many tunes as possible. Also, try to transpose a few tunes to your keys (make a written lead sheet, if possible), or at the very least, know what key you sing each tune in so an instrumental group can make the necessary adjustments.

All instrumentalists, vocalists, drummers and percussionists are strongly encouraged to learn or brush up on your piano skills. If you have no previous piano experience, start by learning the notes, the major scales and the chord tones on the keyboard. You can also work on other scales in the beginner level. This will benefit you tremendously at the Litchfild Jazz Camp and throughout the year.

See you at camp,
Don Braden
Music Director

Download files for preparation:

Litchfield Jazz Camp Preparation (a comprehensive list)

Getting the Most Out of Combo Class

LJC Practical Theory Student Guidelines

Essentials of Learning Jazz

Keyboard and Chromatic Scale

Chord Symbol Chart

Cycle of Fourths

20 Ideas for Improvising
Simple but powerful ideas for releasing the master jazz improviser within you – By Harry Pickens

Jazz Resources
Lists recordings, websites, books, and theory resources.

Scales To Practice (Page 1)
Minor, Major, and Dominant 7th Scales

Scales To Practice (Page 2)
Diminished, Whole Tone, Diminished Whole Tone, and Half Diminished scales.

Sample Jazz Theory Evaluation

Jazz Glossary
Useful terms to know in Jazz!

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