Savannah Music Festival launches free music education program for SCCPSS students

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Music Festival is set to launch SMF Jazz Academy, a free virtual music education program for Savannah-Chatham County Public School (SCCPSS) students.

SMF Jazz Academy will official launch on Sept. 14. The first full year follows up the Spring 2020 pilot semester at the School of Humanities at Juliette Gordon Low Elementary.

The program will follow SCCPSS’ lead and will be held online through the Fall 2020 semester.

“We want students to remain engaged and excited about learning jazz in 2020,” said Ulysses Owens, Jr., SMF Jazz Academy Artistic Educator in Residence. “We have a world-class faculty who will work with these children. The kids just need to be willing to learn.”

Any SCCPSS student in fifth grade through twelfth grade who does not have a jazz band offered at his or her school is encouraged to apply. SMF Jazz Academy says it is accepting beginner, intermediate and advanced students. Precious musical experience is not required.

“We’re planning to focus on the positive aspects of learning through technology,” said Erez Dessel, SMF Jazz Academy Music Director Fellow and an accomplished pianist, composer and educator. “The core of jazz music is improvisation and putting together this program has felt like a large exercise in improvisation. We’re hopeful that students will benefit from a flexible program that’s able to adapt to their needs and give them the skills to grow their creativity.”

Students will have the opportunity to attend special masterclasses and workshops led by Dessel and other artists from across the country.

The online SMF Jazz Academy program includes free instrument rental, if needed, as well as weekly private lessons via video, composition and music technology classes, virtual practice rooms, online masterclasses with guest artists and much more.

“The mission of SMF Jazz Academy is to lead positive and progressive change in Savannah by providing equal access to exceptional music education in a safe, accepting learning environment that supports each child’s development,” Savannah Music Festival said in a release.

Applications are currently being accepted for SMF Jazz Academy. To apply, visit

Anyone with questions is asked to contact Jessica Messere at or 912-234-3378 x107.

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