Developing High Level Jazz Musicians
Founded by Cliff Gribble in 2004, the Jazz Studies program offers top quality instrumental and jazz training to young musicians from the Greater Milwaukee area, with a focus on urban students whose culture and heritage are deeply rooted in the origins of jazz and Latin jazz music.
Training by top-notch and highly-experienced faculty emphasizes small jazz combo experience, jazz technique, improvisation, instrumental technique and basic to advanced music theory.
The Jazz Studies program develops high level jazz musicians and affords a thorough understanding of various jazz styles, composers, musicians and their music. The program offers jazz training, performing opportunities and clinics with local and national jazz artists to those with limited access to study jazz music.
Musicians are placed in one of the five levels of study according to ability and knowledge of jazz, demonstrated by an audition, a music theory test and/or private lesson or school band instructor recommendation. Continuing students are placed based upon their previous season’s performance, an audition, music theory test and/or combo instructor’s recommendation.
At a Glance
- Rehearsals generally on Wednesday and Thursday late afternoons/evenings
- Prerequisites for admission: Grade 6-12 with two years of prior musical experience, or at least one year of school jazz band experience
- A recommendation from a private teacher or school band instructor is also required
- Director: Mr. Chris Mell
- For more information, please call the office at (414) 267-2950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Jazz Studies Staff
Neil Davis is an emerging talent.
He started playing jazz in Milwaukee in 2002. Also in that same year Neil began teaching private lessons to aspiring guitarists at all levels.
As time went on he reached a peak of 72 students per week. The grueling schedule led him to yearn for an environment where he could focus his methods on students who were interested in jazz.
Davis is honored and excited to be a part of the Jazz Studies Program at MYSO. Neil is sought after as a sideman and also leads his own quartet. He is also half of the Davis\Peplin Duo.
As well as playing jazz Neil uses his talent in the world of Modern Dance. He is has been an accompanist for the UWM dance dept. since 2005.
Tobie L. Wilkinson has been Senior Lecturer of Music/Percussion at UW-Whitewater since 2002. Mr. Wilkinson teaches applied percussion lessons, is assistant director of the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Marching Band, directs the UW-Whitewater Percussion Ensemble, and teaches percussion methods courses for future music educators.
He is a frequent adjudicator/clinician and performs as a free-lance percussionist. Currently, he holds the position of Principal Timpanist with the Racine Symphony Orchestra and serves as the President for the Wisconsin Chapter of the Percussive Arts Society.
He received his Bachelor of Music Performance and Bachelor of Music Education degree at Central Michigan University, and his Master of Music degree in Percussion Performance at Rice University in Houston, TX.
A MYSO alumnus, Isaiah Simons has been playing the double bass for the past 15 years. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a Master of Music degree from Michigan State University, where he studied on a full graduate fellowship.
Isaiah performs throughout the Milwaukee area as a sideman with a wide variety of local musicians, and also holds a contract as a section bassist in the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. He has also toured throughout Canada for the past three summers with the Orchestre de la Francophonie, where he performed as principal bass.
In addition to his work as a musician, Isaiah enjoys cooking, and is an avid Milwaukee Bucks fan.
John Simons has been playing music professionally since his late teens. His formal training began on the trombone while in middle school and he picked up the guitar and bass shortly thereafter.
Since then, he has studied at UW-Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, and privately with musicians from the symphony and the jazz community. He continues to play out mostly on upright and electric bass, and is privileged to share the stage with many of Milwaukee’s finest musicians.
His current projects include playing with the North Coast Orchestra, the Stomata Trio, and the Carlos Adames trio.
John has taught in MYSO’s Jazz Studies program since 2011 and teaches math during the day at a local K-8 school on Milwaukee’s South Side.