Category: Jazz Education

Yearly Jazz Music Clinics

The Reno Jazz Orchestra’s annual Jazz in the Schools event takes place each February in the Department of Music's prestegious Nightingale Concert Hall, University of Nevada, Reno. Each year, this all day event starts at 9am with jazz clinics presented througout the day by nationally recognized guest clinicians from music departments and schools from around the country. There are also several clinics offered by members of the UNR Jazz Faculty. The clinicians critique each student group’s performance and then work with that group immediately after their performance to improve their jazz performance skills.  In years past there have been as many as twelve groups participating and performing on stage.

As part of the day's event, the Reno Jazz Orchestra performs on stage for a 45 minute concert at noon. A pizza lunch is provided at a nominal fee and afterwards the RJO performs a concert for the students and audience members featuring performances by UNR Jazz and Improvisational Music studies professors. Also offered is a jazz workshop for local educators.

In recent years, guest clinicians have included Craig Faniani from Sacramento, former director of the award winning Rio Americano High School Band Program in Sacramento, John Davis, director of the Jazz Program at University of Colorado, Boulder, George Stone of Cuesta College San Luis Obispo, and Robert Knop of Cal State San Bernardino. Although not all UNR Jazz Faculty members participate each year, members include jazz pianist Adam Benjamin, M.F.A.; guitarist Joey Berger; guitarist Ed Corey, lecturer in music composition and theory; trumpet player Larry Engstrom, D.M.A., Director of the School of the Arts; saxophonist Peter Epstein, Director of Jazz Studies and associate professor of world music, jazz and improvisational music; string bassist Hans Halt; percussionist Andrew Heglund, D.M.A., associate professor of music theory and percussion; percussionist, Cody Remaklus, M.F.A. Not all UNR Jazz instructors participate each year.

This event is free and open to the public with no cost to the participating students or schools.   The event helps to prepare the school groups to compete in the the annual Reno Jazz Festival and introduces them to the UNR campus, the Department of Music, and the UNR jazz faculty.


"[The students] get the best of both worlds. They get to perform in front of a bunch of people, their friends, other schools, and then they get to have feedback on their performance by some world class professionals."


Andrew Heglund, D.A.
Associate Professor, Music Theory, Percussion
Department of Music
University of Nevada, Reno

RJO's Intensive Mentor Program

This program takes place at participating schools throughout northern Nevada. During the first week of the program, the guest clinicians assist the school's music or band director in selecting compositions for the band to play. Each day a different clinician representing his or her area of expertise (brass, woodwinds, percussion, rhythm, bass, guitar, piano) attends the school's band rehearsal. Each day, the school's music or band director records the rehearsal after which the visiting clinician is invited to discuss insights, issues and theoretical points for the band members to consider. The guest clinician also gives instructions and assignments with specific goals for the next week's rehearsal.

In the second and third weeks the clinicians come to two rehearsals in pairs.  During these sessions the clinicians test the assignments and refine the issues addressed during the first week.

To complete the program and to measure the results of the sessions, the school music or band director records the band's concluding performances. These recordings are compared to the initial recordings, thereby allowing for educational discussions amongst the instructors and the students. 

If you are a jazz music or jazz band director working in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) and are interested in the Reno Jazz Orchestra's Mentor Program, please contact the RJO Board of Directors.