Get All Jazzed Up With The New Mexico Jazz Workshop

Amy Dalness
3 min read
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“You are the perfect candidate.”

These are the words one loves to hear when applying for a loan, buying a new car and asking what experience is needed to participate in one of New Mexico Jazz Workshop’s adult education classes.

If you have have played a jazz instrument, strummed a guitar or belted your little heart out, then Maud Beenhouwer, education coordinator for the New Mexico Jazz Workshop, says you are the perfect candidate for the classes they are offering this spring semester. This is really good news if your saxophone has been sitting in the back of the closet, gathering dust, waiting for you to get back in the groove.

The New Mexico Jazz Workshop has been contributing to the enhancement of jazz music for over 25 years. They offer a number of concerts series, including Jazz Under the Stars, Salsa Under the Stars and the Albuquerque Blues Fest. High school and middle school musicians audition for their honor jazz bands/workshops every year, and adults can learn from some of the best jazz musicians in the state during their adult education classes. This spring, they are offering five classes to help you get back into jazz or continue to expand your repertoire.

If you’ve been practicing hard (or hardly practicing) and want to play in a big band, the Adult Big Band class starts on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. for 10 weeks. The class will focus on developing and refining a varied repertoire of jazz arrangements and will end with a recital. Enrollment is first come, first served until “all chairs have been filled.” You need to be able to read music to play in this band.

Jazz improvisation is much more than slurring notes together at random; it takes great skill and vast musical knowledge (and an uncanny understanding of scales). For a rhythmic perspective on improvisation, take “Rhythms of Jazz,” which runs for eight weeks starting on Thursday, Feb. 2, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

If you don’t play an instrument (or just don’t want to), improve your voice, ear and sight-reading skills during the jazz chorus class which runs for 10 weeks on Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. starting Feb. 7.

For those blues guitarists, with or without music-reading skills, the blues guitar class will cover Chicago-style, Texas-style, Delta Blues and West Coast Swing, to name a few. The class runs six weeks and starts on Thursday, March 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Want to go solo? “So You Want to Be a Torch Singer: A Six Week Journey to Divadom” will help you achieve bravura and force you to overcome any stage fright you might have. The class starts on Monday, April 3, from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s been a big hit, Beenhouwer says, so make sure to sign up early.

Music education is not just for kids–it is a life-long pursuit for professionals to beginners of all ages. While the classes offered by the New Mexico Jazz Workshop will not teach you how to play an instrument, they do not require you to have the chops of Miles Davis or the lungs of Billie Holiday.

“Our classes are geared for avocational musicians, but there are professionals who take the classes,” Beenhouwer says. “They provide a very fun, nurturing environment.”

The New Mexico Jazz Workshop's spring semester of adult education classes starts on Feb. 29. All classes will be held at the New Mexico Jazz Workshop at 5500 Lomas NE. Call 255-9798 to register, or visit for more information.

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