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Jazz & Improvisation

Large Ensemble Membership: Students may audition for Face the Music's Large Ensemble Membership on any instrument or multiple instruments. This Membership is the core Face the Music experience. Students participate in a large ensemble throughout the school year, perform works by living artists, and have opportunities to meet and learn from guest artist performers and composers. Face the Music ensembles range from big band to chamber orchestra, and ensemble placement depends upon instrument, interest, and skill. Most students participate in a single ensemble, though some may participate in more than one at no additional cost. Large ensembles meet weekly for 1.5-hour to 2-hour rehearsals on Face the Music days. Year-Long tuition is $700. Students who are Special Music School High School Students will receive a 25% discount.

Thanks to generous supporters, Face the Music Memberships are highly subsidized for all students. We are grateful to our individual, foundation, and public partners for helping us offer tuition costs that are significantly lower than comparable youth music programs.


improvisation collective

Face the Music's Improvisation Collective performs improvised and experimental music by today's leading composers. Over the course of a season, students will explore music across a wide range of genres and modalities. Students auditioning for this ensemble do not need to have any previous experience with reading music or improvising. Students read music and improvise, and will gain experience performing non-traditional forms of notation such as graphic and text-based scores. The Improvisation Collective's repertoire includes Walter Thompson's gesture-based Sound Painting composition system. In Sound Painting, students learn how to compose in real time using a variety of musical gestures to direct the ensemble. Each student participates in both leading the ensemble as a conductor and performing as an instrumentalist/vocalist. In recent seasons, the Improvisation Collective has performed contemporary works by North Indian composers Tanmoy Bose and Nistha Raj on the Brooklyn Raga Massive concert series. Other collaborations include performing the music of Anthony Braxton with members of Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation, John Zorn's Masada, and music by AACM composer George Lewis. The Improvisation Collective is conducted by saxophonist and composer Aakash Mittal.

Big Band

Face the Music's Big Band performs music by living jazz composers and music written by student members of the ensemble. This group focuses on music that uses traditional big band instrumentation. Students are expected to have experience reading music when auditioning for this ensemble. Students auditioning for the big band do not need previous experience with improvisation and will have opportunities to improvise in the ensemble. The Big Band's repertoire includes works by Maria Schneider, Rudresh Mahanthappa and John Hollenbeck. The ensemble regularly works directly with the composers of the music they are rehearsing and has been visited by Mac Arthur "Genius" Fellow Anthony Braxton, Latin Grammy artist Arturo O'Farrill, Guggenheim fellow Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Doris Duke Performing Artist John Hollenbeck. Face the Music offers a unique opportunity for young composers to write, workshop and perform their own large ensemble jazz works. The big band regularly performs works written by student members of the band in such notable NYC venues as Roulette, The Jazz Gallery and the Dimenna Center. The Face the Music Big Band is conducted by Aakash Mittal.

Advanced Jazz combo

The Advanced Jazz Combo is an opportunity for experienced Face the Music students to play challenging small ensemble music and the music of FTM composers. Students auditioning for this ensemble are expected to be proficient at reading music and to have experience improvising. The combo has performed works by composers including Mary Halvorson, Steve Lehman, Mainak Nagchoudhury and Anthony Braxton. The Advanced Jazz Combo is conducted by Aakash Mittal.

Copy above by Aakash Mittal, saxophonist, composer and Face the Music coach



Face the Music is Kaufman Music Center's contemporary music program for teens ages 12-18. Interested students are invited to apply to audition beginning May 10, 2021 Online Here. For info, email or call 929 265 8412. Do you know teen musicians who may be interested? Download a flyer HERE.