The VCUarts Department of Music regularly hosts workshops, camps and other programs for middle- and high-school students and their families.
Programs happen year-round and include offerings for winds, brass, percussion, voice, piano, strings and more! Select from the menu to learn more about each program.
NOTE: All pre-college programs are currently on hold due to COVID-19. Updates will be posted here as they become available.
Select a program
This workshop for violin, viola, cello, bass and harp* helps high school string players prepare for the Virginia All-State audition. With the help of the VCU String faculty, participants will hone their skills and build their confidence through a variety of hands-on activities.
Usually held in February
The workshop is held at the James W. Black Music Center, 1015 Grove Ave., Richmond, VA, 23220. Parents may drop off students or stay and observe. Parking is available on the street, although you should allow some time to find a parking spot. Parking is unrestricted on the weekends in the Fan. Broad Street Parking deck is also available for parking.
- scale boot camp
- sight-reading training
- orchestra excerpt sessions
- etude workshop
- mock auditions with written comments
VCUarts Music faculty members are professional musicians who currently perform with the Richmond Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Atlantic Chamber Ensemble, Classical Revolution and more. They have countless years of experience playing in professional orchestras and preparing successfully for auditions.
Violin: Susanna Klein,
Viola: Stephen Schmidt, Sandy Goldie
Cello: Dana McComb, Jason McComb
Bass: Kelly Ali
Harp*: Colleen Potter Thorburn
*Harpists must bring their own instruments.
Cellopalooza is a biannual celebration for performers, teachers and fans of the violoncello, featuring guest clinicians and performers from around the world. Cellists ages 12 and up (suggested age, but younger welcome) are invited to the day of masterclasses, workshops and cello choirs.
Master Class Information
A master class is an opportunity where students see a master teach. A couple of students play solos for the class, the master teaches (like a private lesson), and everyone else observes.
* Middle School Masterclass participation: Space available first come first served, please indicate interest when registering
**High School level Masterclass (D. McComb) and College level masterclass (S. Robinson): Auditions required for these masterclasses. There are 2-3 available for each class.
- Cello choir music will be assigned and posted 3 weeks before the event
- Dress is casual (bring a sweater)
- Masterclass participants will be referred to a Richmond pianist for accompaniment. Piano accompaniment for non-solo repertoire is required for the college level class, and strongly suggested for the high school level class.
- Final schedule of the day, parking info and directions (and some things to do around town for parents) will be emailed before the event
- Discount tickets for the KLR concert at 8pm will be available at the box office that night for friends and family (up to 4)
For more information, email Susanna Klein, VCU Coordinator of Strings at email@example.com.
Previous Cellopalooza Guest Artists:
Cellopalooza I: Bonnie Hampton, Juilliard
Cellopalooza II: Peter Wispelwey, International Artist
Cellopalooza III: Zuill Bailey, International Artist
Cellopalooza IV: Joel Krosnick, Juilliard Quartet
Cellopalooza V: Clive Greensmith, Tokyo Quartet
Cellopalooza VI: Alisa Weilerstein
Cellopalooza VII: Irene Sharp
Cellopalooza VIII: Paul Watkins
Cellopalooza IX: Sharon Robinson
To be added to our Strings mailing list, please click here.
The VCU Choral Classic is an invitational event for high school choirs to attend.
Each fall choirs from across the state attend a half-day vocal workshop with our voice faculty followed by tours of campus, rehearsals in the concert hall, dinner at Shafer Dining Hall and culminating with Gala Concert featuring each of the guest choirs and the VCU Commonwealth Singers.
For more information, please contact Erin Freeman.
“… a jazz ensemble comprised of some of the very best high school jazz musicians from our metropolitan area. The VCU Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band has always given outstanding performances and serves as the best ambassadors for this event that I could imagine.”
-“The Titan Jazz & Art Festival: A Model for Others, Part I” by Brian Rollins
JAZZed, Vol. 11, No. 6.
“[The] Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band swings and sways with its usual brilliance.”
–“And the Award Goes To…” Richmond Magazine
The Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band is made up of some of the most talented high school jazz students from the region. Alumni of this ensemble have gone on to major in music at such programs as VCU, Temple, Miami, The New School, Berklee, and at other institutions throughout the U.S.; have studied at summer jazz programs such as the Vail and Berklee Jazz Workshops; and have successfully pursued careers in other disciplines.
Each year the group is selected through auditions that are held in January. Rehearsals are held on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. during the spring semester, culminating with two concerts, one held at Trinity Episcopal School on April 23, 2022, and the second at VCU’s Sonia Vlahcevic Concert Hall on May 7, 2022.
Auditions will take place January 3-4, 2022 at VCU’s James W. Black Music Center (Room 1003), 1015 Grove Avenue, Richmond, VA. Rehearsals will begin on Sundays starting January 16, 2022 from 2-4 p.m.
To schedule your audition, contact Prof. Toby Whitaker. Download the 2022 brochure[PDF] and complete the schedule consent form (to be added) with the required signatures. Bring these to your January audition. A non-refundable fee of $225 will be due at the first rehearsal.
Preparing for your Audition
Entry audition content is typically as follows. VCU Jazz faculty usually accompany auditionees as needed; we welcome an extra copy of your sheet music. A play-along CD is possible but usually not preferable to live interaction.
- Horns: Unaccompanied performance of the melodies and, if possible, improvised solos over two tunes of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. Potential accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice. Possible basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique.
- Piano: Performance of a melody and accompaniment and, if possible, improvised solo over two tunes of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. Possible basic scales to assess range, tone, and/or technique. Potential comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa and samba.
- Guitar and bass: Performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over two tunes of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. Potential accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice. Possible basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique. Potential comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. VCU will supply guitar and bass amps; guitarists are required to bring their own quarter-inch cords. Bassists will audition acoustically.
- Drums: Unaccompanied performance of a variety of styles on request, including swing, ballad, waltz, bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban, plus possibly trading fours. Drummers are required to bring their own cymbals, hi-hat clutch, sticks and brushes.
- All: Sight reading as provided by the jurors.
Sample tunes might include:
- Swing: “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Now’s the Time,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Stella by Starlight”
- Bossa: “Blue Bossa,” “Recorda-Me,” “Meditation,” Wave” and “Black Orpheus”
- Samba: Samba versions of the bossas above are acceptable.
- Afro-Cuban: “Mambo Inn” (2-3 clave), “Afro-Blue” (12/8), “Frenesí” (cha-cha), “Como Fue” (cha-cha) and “A Night in Tunisia” (possible in a variety of settings)
- Ballad: “In a Sentimental Mood,” “Body and Soul,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and “Misty”
- Waltz: “Up Jumped Spring,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “All Blues” and “Bluesette”
You are not limited to the above choices; these are merely examples. Please note that improvisation is not a requirement to join this ensemble; however, we are delighted to hear all levels of improv within your audition.
Auditions are held in the James W. Black Music Center at 1015 Grove Avenue at the corner of Harrison Street in the Fan District.
Richmond’s Bands began in 1995 with the founding of the Greater Richmond Youth Wind Ensemble (GRYWE) for advanced high school musicians. The following year, the Richmond Honors Band was created as an opportunity for advanced middle school and young high school students and in response to popular demand, the Greater Richmond High School Jazz Band was added the following year.
The Richmond’s Bands program is a valuable addition to Richmond’s vibrant instrumental community, offering aspects of a district or all-state band experience within a long-term rehearsal environment.
The program has given Richmond-area students the opportunity to work with some of the finest conductors and teachers in the U.S. Guest conductors for GRYWE have included composer Timothy Mahr, retired United States Marine Band Director Colonel John Bourgeois, band clinician and author Ed Lisk and internationally renowned conductor David Whitwell. Students from Richmond’s Bands have gone on to study in some of the finest music schools in the country.
Connect with GRYWE on Facebook!
VCU Jazz Day is a jazz improvisation and combo workshop for high school students, usually held in January. The VCU Jazz Studies program invites selected jazz students to spend a day with jazz faculty and students. The 2021 event will be virtual and will include the following activities:
- Improvisation Workshop
- VCU Faculty Jazz Concert
- Master Classes for Instrument Groups
- VCU Jazz Orchestra I concert
- Virtual Lunch/College Panel with VCU Students
- College Panel with VCU Faculty
- Trading with VCU Faculty
- Lightning Round Q&A with VCU Faculty
For more information, contact Antonio García.
Up to seven VCU faculty members will offer instruction, including (subject to change) Prof. García, Director of Jazz Studies, trombone; Rex Richardson, trumpet; J.C. Kuhl, saxophone; Michael Ess, guitar; Russell Wilson, piano; Eric Wheeler, bass; and Tony Martucci, drum set.
Selected students will have demonstrated an exceptional desire and potentially strong ability to pursue the craft of jazz improvisation and may be considering continuing that pursuit at the college or professional level.
Prof. García invites students to attend Jazz Day via their high school directors. Students who accept that invitation must complete, sign, and return the downloadable 2021 Jazz Day Consent Form[PDF] to Prof. García via e-mail with the signature of a parent or guardian. This form acknowledges that student and parent recognize their commitment to the student’s attendance that day.
Until this form is received by Prof. García, students will not be assigned seats for Jazz Day. Please scan or photograph your form clearly, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org; this year postal-mailed forms are not accepted.
Unfortunately as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s orchestra project has been cancelled. Please check back for more information next year regarding the 2021-2022 season.
The VCU Orchestra Project, a joint venture between VCUarts Music and the Richmond Symphony, is a unique orchestra camp. Staffed entirely by some of the most talented players and teachers in Richmond — VCU professors and full-time musicians from the Richmond Symphony — it is designed to immerse young players in the magic of great music making. The mission of the VCU Orchestra Project is to bring about transformative growth in young musicians in one week’s time.
The VCU Orchestra Project offers the following programs, with both dorm and day options available:
String Intensive: an advanced and focused week for high school string players where we dig deep into chamber music, string orchestra, and workshops. Auditions are held in the spring. Come immerse yourself at Intensive.
String Odyssey: for the burgeoning string player, third through ninth grade. We dig into a whirlwind of repertoire and have fun with electives as well. Two years playing experience required – surprise yourself at Odyssey.