jazz and improvised music


APPLications now open for the
17th annual young women's jazz workshops!

Now in its 17th year, Young Women’s Jazz Workshops course teaches girls, aged 12 and up, how to improvise and get a feel for jazz and blues over an eight week program. Our ensembles accommodate players of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, regardless of their prior knowledge of jazz. These workshops provide an excellent platform for individuals wanting to develop confidence improvising within a fun and supportive environment and those looking to study music at a tertiary level. Our graduates have gone on to win the prestigious Freedman Jazz Fellowship and perform at the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival.  The Workshop was recognised at the APRA Art Music Awards, winning the NSW State Award for Excellence in Music Education. Apply Today!


who can apply

Who is Eligible The course accommodates all levels of jazz experience. If you can read music and play your instrument, you are eligible to apply. Students are divided into different levels based on their instrumental ability and knowledge of jazz (if any). For students with no knowledge of blues scales or improvisation, the course serves as a fun entryway into the world of jazz. For the more advanced student, the course serves as excellent training preparatory to auditioning for a tertiary jazz program. Active musicians have used the course to become confident soloing and improvising in a supportive and fun learning environment.

course dates & details


Applications close 7 June

Orientation Day:
Saturday 29 June (NSW)

If you can’t attend on this day, please email operations@sima.org.au.
Please see audition information further down

Saturdays 10am – 1pm, 27 July – 21 September (eight three-hour workshops in total)
No class Saturday 31 August (Sydney Conservatorium of Music Open Day)

Sydney Conservatorium of Music (NSW)

Final Concert:
Wednesday 25 September
Course fee: $485 payable on acceptance to the course. This is non-refundable once the course commences.
A small number of subsidies are offered for families who are experiencing financial hardship at the discretion of the Course Director. Please contact gm@sima.org.au to find out how to apply.
Enquiries: Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Phone SIMA
 on 02 9036 6292 or email operations@sima.org.au
Application form:

Founded and developed by Dr Sandy Evans OAM and Sydney Improvised Music Association (SIMA) in 2002, this pioneering program has had a direct impact on the number of women studying jazz at a tertiary level in Australia. In NSW, the program is delivered in partnership with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Open Academy. In the ACT, the program is delivered in partnership with the ANU School of Music. Our course tutors are sought-after educators and in-demand musicians, and the course includes masterclasses with leading practitioners in the field.

Some of our graduates have gone on to perform headline shows at the Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival, win the coveted $20,000 Freedman Jazz Fellowship, and in 2017 the course itself was recognised at the Art Music Awards, winning the NSW State Award for Excellence in Music Education.

Our participants have such a good time that many of them come back to take the workshops at a higher level the next year – and the next! This could be a life-changing experience, so apply today! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

"The Young Women's Jazz Workshops provided me with an important opportunity to take my first steps into the jazz world. The overall encouraging atmosphere of the workshop and the support from the mentors gave me confidence and inspiration to continue and pursue my goal. Above all, the most inspiring aspect of it was having incredibly talented women as mentors, teachers and friends."
- Zela Margossian
(pianist, vocalist, composer and Young Women's Jazz Workshops graduate)

Orientation Day

Information Show us what you can do! Think of your audition as a friendly, musical meet-and-greet. We’re interested in seeing what you know and what you can do. We welcome students of all skill levels, even if you don’t know anything about jazz yet! Your personal session with the Course Director allows her to get to know you as a person, and place you into an appropriate ensemble for your age and skill level. 

Previous participants do not have to re-audition but are welcome to!
1. Bring a piece of your choice that you feel confident playing for us. It can be any genre, and should demonstrate your ability.
2. We’ll have a chat with you to find out how much basic theory you know (e.g. note names, major/minor)
3. We’ll ask you to play some scales. Knowledge of some major and minor scales and the blues scale is very important. If you don’t know any of these yet you will be asked to learn some during the course, so it’s a good idea to get started!

4. We’ll assess your aural skills, eg. interval and chord recognition, and your ability to identify melodies from a recording or played live.
5. We’ll see what level your sight reading is at. If you have some jazz experience, you can try improvising over a set of chord changes. We’ll also ask you to play a blues head and improvise over the form.
6. If you already have experience playing jazz, we’ll further explore your improvising ability and knowledge of theory.
Drummers: We’d like to know that you understand what a swing beat is – even if you don’t have much experience yet in playing one! Depending on your experience, we’ll listen to you play some feels (e.g. swing, bossa nova, rock, jazz waltz…). You’ll play along with our accompanist and we’ll see how you interact rhythmically. Don’t forget to bring your sticks and any cymbals you prefer using.


At the end of the workshops, join students and tutors and enjoy a night of fantastic music as our participants showcase their newly found confidence in a finale concert. With ages ranging from 12 years and up, you will experience a mix of music as participants have honed their skills in brass, percussion, strings, vocals and more - so come and support them and share their excitement, new skills and confidence!

ABC Jazz is proud to be a media partner for the Young Women's Jazz Workshops.

"Women are still very under-represented in jazz – professionally and in tertiary courses. This course provides a supportive environment for aspiring female jazz musicians to explore their creativity and develop their skills in this exciting and challenging musical genre."
- Dr Sandy Evans OAM
(YWJW co-founder; award-winning musician, composer, and educator)

Explore the Music
We've compiled music from the Recommended Listening List in the Coursebook conveniently here into one YouTube playlist. You can start listening and exploring the music whenever you like!

What students have said

I now understand the structure of a song, chord changes and how to play more chords. I understand my role in a band setting better now.

Jenna– student, 2015

This workshop has inspired me to continue with jazz and continue to get better. I am HEAPS more confident in playing jazz and improvising now.

Rosa– student, 2015

The workshops have had a positive impact on my musical ability. They allowed me to practice and strengthen concepts such as listening and interacting with the rhythm section when improvising, following chord changes and guide tones and using interesting rhythms and phrasing better in solos. 

Bernice – student, 2015