Jazz at Settlement 

Settlement Music School is where Philly’s Jazz musicians get their start. Philadelphia plays a pivotal role in jazz history. From Billie Holiday to John Coltrane, many major jazz figures were born here and made Philly their home. A number of them got started right here at Settlement Music School.

Settlement’s jazz alums include Bassists Christian McBride and Stanley Clarke, Violinists John Blake, Jr. and Diane Monroe, the Eubanks brothers, and multi-instrumentalist Joey DeFrancesco, just to name a few. Internationally renowned vibraphonist Tony Miceli not only took lessons at Settlement as a kid, he now coaches Settlement’s Advanced Study Jazz Ensemble. Every day, jazz musicians of all ages and experience levels walk through our doors to practice, rehearse, perform, share ideas, and learn.  

Settlement is preparing the next generation of jazz musicians with classes and private instruction taught by the very best jazz teaching artists. Traditionally, students start with private lessons on an instrument, join a jazz ensemble in early middle school, enroll in music theory and improvisation classes, and eventually audition for higher level ensembles in late middle school and early high school. Settlement offers all of these courses of study, in combination or solo, and is prepared to meet students wherever they might be in their musical development journey.

Private Lessons

Settlement offers jazz instruction on Piano, Percussion, Guitar, Bass, Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, and Violin. Interested in another jazz instrument? Contact us and we will do our best to find the right instructor for you. Lessons are offered weekly, with 30, 45, or 60 minute options.

Jazz Ensembles

Settlement offers jazz ensembles for jazz musicians ages 10-18 who have at least two years of experience on their instruments. Classes meet for 60 or 90 minutes weekly during the school year and include ensemble and small combo work as well as improvisation instruction. Ensembles regularly perform at events in the community.

Now available online!

Rehearsal Schedules: 

Mary Louise Curtis Branch: Adult Combo, Tuesdays at 7 p.m.

Kardon-Northeast Branch: Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.

– Middle School, Tuesdays, 6 p.m.
– High School, Thursdays, 6 p.m.
– Wheeler Pre-Advanced Jazz Ensemble, Tuesdays, 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
– Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study Jazz Ensemble, Tuesdays, 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Tuition (32 weeks):

$620 for a one hour class
$930 for a one and a half hour class
Financial Aid Available

Advanced Study Scholarship Ensemble

The Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study Jazz Ensemble, taught by Tony Miceli, is for the most advanced students. This group, which is tuition-free, meets for 90 minutes on Tuesday nights, at 7:30 p.m. at the Wynnefield Branch, and performs frequently throughout the Philadelphia area. 

Auditions for 2021-2022

Auditions for our 2021-2022 Helen K. Schwartz Advanced Study and Wheeler Pre-Advanced Jazz Ensembles will take place via video submission due by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 20, 2021. Please complete the online application below and send your video audition to Wynnefield Branch Director Alex Serio (alex.serio@settlementmusic.org) via WeTransfer.

Video Requirements

Bass, Guitar, Wind & Brass players should play the melody and two solo choruses from any two of the following standards using any pre-recorded backing of their choice:

  • Billie’s Bounce
  • Blue Bossa
  • Little Sunflower
  • All Blues

Keyboard players should play the melody and two solo choruses from any two of the following standards:

  • Billie’s Bounce
  • Blue Bossa
  • Little Sunflower
  • All Blues


Trade 8 measures of keeping time and 8 measures of solo using the following requirements:

  1. With Brushes – swing time trading 8s with yourself
  2. With Sticks –
    a. fast tempo trading 8s with yourself
    b. medium tempo trading 8s with yourself

Recording suggestions:

  1. Use a well lit space with more light shining on your face than behind you. Example: If you record near daylight from a window, make sure the light from the window is shining on your face and instrument and not at the back of your head.
  2. If you are using a smart phone, please record in landscape.
  3. Make sure you test several different positions to capture the best sound from your instrument.
  4. The recording does not need to be professionally made.