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Young Women's Jazz Workshops

About the Workshops

The Sydney Improvised Music Association and the Open Academy regret to announce that the NSW Young Women’s Jazz Workshops will not take place in 2020 due to COVID.

It is the first time in the program’s 18 year history that we’ve missed a year but we will be back next year better than ever. We’re looking forward to sharing 2021 dates as soon as we can, in the meantime stay well, keep practicing and find joy in music.

The award-winning Young Women’s Jazz Workshops course teaches young women, aged 12 and up, how to improvise and get a feel for jazz and blues. Running over eight weeks, the program culminates in a public concert at which SIMA’s Media Partner ABC Jazz presents some awards. We cater to all skill levels. Our participants have such a good time that many of them come back to take the workshops at a higher level the next year – and the next!

"The Young Women’s Jazz Workshops provided me with an important opportunity to take my first steps into the jazz world. The overall encouraging atmosphere of the workshop and the support from the mentors gave me confidence and inspiration to continue and pursue my goal. Above all, the most inspiring aspect of it was having incredibly talented women as mentors, teachers and friends."

  • Zela Margossian(pianist, vocalist, composer and Young Women’s Jazz Workshops graduate)

Who is Eligible?

The course accommodates all levels of jazz experience. If you can read music and play your instrument, you are eligible to apply. Students are divided into different levels based on their instrumental ability and knowledge of jazz (if any). For students with no knowledge of blues scales or improvisation, the course serves as an excellent entryway into the world of jazz. For the more advanced student, the course serves as excellent training preparatory to auditioning for a tertiary jazz program. Active musicians have used the course to become confident soloing and improvising in a supportive and fun learning environment. Entry to the workshops is by audition.

Course Objectives

Develop the skills and confidence of young women in jazz and improvised music
Broaden knowledge of jazz & improvised music, including the contribution of outstanding Australian artists in this field.
Increase awareness of career options in jazz and related areas.
Encourage students to understand audition processes and apply for tertiary jazz courses.
Nurture and foster friendships and support networks amongst young women jazz musicians.

Final Concert

At the end of the workshops, join students and tutors and enjoy a night of fantastic music as our participants showcase their newly found confidence in a finale concert. With ages ranging from 12 years and up, you will experience a mix of music as participants have honed their skills in brass, percussion, strings, vocals and more – so come and support them and share their excitement, new skills and confidence!

Orientation Day Information

Show us what you can do! Think of your audition as a friendly, musical meet-and-greet. We’re interested in seeing what you know and what you can do. We welcome students of all skill levels, even if you don’t know anything about jazz yet! Your personal session with the Course Director allows her to get to know you as a musician, and place you into an appropriate ensemble for your age and skill level.

Entry Level Students:
1. Bring a piece of your choice that you feel confident playing for us. It can be any genre, and should demonstrate your ability.
2. We’ll have a chat with you to find out how much basic theory you know (e.g. note names, major/minor)
3. We’ll ask you to play some scales. Knowledge of some major and minor scales and the blues scale is very important. If you don’t know any of these yet you will be asked to learn some during the course, so it’s a good idea to get started!

Advanced Level Students:

1. We’ll assess your aural skills, eg. interval and chord recognition, and your ability to identify melodies from a recording or played live.
2. We’ll see what level your sight reading is at. If you have some jazz experience, you can try improvising over a set of chord changes. We’ll also ask you to play a blues head and improvise over the form.
3. If you already have experience playing jazz, we’ll further explore your improvising ability and knowledge of theory.

Drummers: We’d like to know that you understand what a swing beat is – even if you don’t have much experience yet in playing one! Depending on your experience, we’ll listen to you play some feels (e.g. swing, bossa nova, rock, jazz waltz…). You’ll play along with our accompanist and we’ll see how you interact rhythmically.

A piano accompanist will be provided for all auditions.
Drummers please bring your own sticks and cymbals.
Guitarists please bring your own leads.

Previous participants do not have to re-audition but are welcome to!

Important Dates

The course runs over 8 Saturdays during August and September.

All workshops take place from 10am – 1pm in assigned rooms at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music culminating in the final concert presentation in the Music Cafe at the Con.

Please check back for updates on the 2021 Orientation Day, Workshop and Concert dates.


Sydney Conservatorium of Music

For more information

For more information on 2021 dates and how to apply please contact SIMA

Amy (SIMA)
02 9036 6292

About the Workshops

Founded and developed by Dr Sandy Evans OAM and Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) in 2002, this pioneering program has had a direct impact on the number of women studying jazz at a tertiary level in Australia. In NSW, the program is delivered in partnership with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Open Academy. Our course tutors are sought-after educators and in-demand musicians, and the course includes
masterclasses with leading practitioners in the field. Some of our graduates have gone on to perform headline shows at the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, win the coveted $20,000 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, and in 2017 the course itself was recognised at the Art Music Awards, winning the NSW State Award for Excellence in Music Education.

‘Sadly, women are still very under-represented in jazz – professionally and in tertiary courses. This course provides a supportive environment for aspiring female jazz musicians to explore their creativity and develop their skills in this exciting and challenging musical genre’. Sandy Evans, OAM (course founder, musician/composer)

Our Young Women’s Jazz Workshops prepare students for music studies including the audition process. YWJW graduates make up the majority of the women studying jazz at a tertiary level in NSW and in 2013 a record number of women were accepted into the Sydney Conservatorium’s Jazz Program. Our workshop participants have also been accepted into jazz courses at other Universities around Australia.

In addition to skills development, the program forms a network of women who support and encourage one another and the musical friendships that are formed extend well beyond the duration of the five-week course.

What students have said

I now understand the structure of a song, chord changes and how to play more chords. I understand my role in a band setting better now.
Jenna– student, 2015

This workshop has inspired me to continue with jazz and continue to get better. I am HEAPS more confident in playing jazz and improvising now.
Rosa– student, 2015

The workshops have had a positive impact on my musical ability. They allowed me to practice and strengthen concepts such as listening and interacting with the rhythm section when improvising, following chord changes and guide tones and using interesting rhythms and phrasing better in solos.
Bernice – student, 2015