Jazz Improvisation & Combo Camp

Date and Time:

July 2, 2023 2:00 pm - July 7, 2023 - 5:00 pm

Event Location:

802 1st Street, Shell Lake, WI, 54871

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Develop your jazz improv skills and make new friends in your jazz combo.


Camp Dates: July 2-7, 2023

Final Performance: Friday, July 7-Time TBA

A week of jazz playing and study that will change your life! Shell Lake’s Jazz Improvisation and Combo Camp features small group playing & rehearsals, masterclasses, improv sessions, jazz history and listening. Camp also includes Individual improvisation lessons and arranging classes!  Join the thousands of students who have studied with our outstanding teaching-artist faculty, and get the skills to become a great jazz player.

Who Should Enroll
Students completing grades 6-12… all levels of experience are accepted, from beginner to advanced. You receive a personal private audition upon Sunday arrival and are matched with others of the same level. Whether you’re just starting your jazz experience, or are an accomplished player and passionate about continuing your studies, this camp is for you!

Camp Features
Jazz Improvisation Classes
Instrument Masterclasses
Small Group Rehearsals
Listening Class: Hearing The Masters In Jazz
Arranging Basics For Combo
Wide Variety of Music: Jazz Standards to Contemporary Classics
Faculty & Student Performances
Free time: Practice, relax or head to the beach

The Shell Lake Jazz Experience
For more than 50 years, the Shell Lake Jazz Camps have been the launching pad for some of America’s most acclaimed musicians, including:
Geoff Keezer (Piano with Art Blakey, David Sanborn)
Bill Evans (Saxophone with Miles Davis, Randy Brecker)
Lyle Mays (Keyboards with The Pat Metheny Group)
Byron Stripling (Trumpet with The Count Basie Orchestra)
Ethan Iverson (Piano with The Bad Plus)

Sign Up Now!
There’s just one session of the popular Jazz Improvisation & Combo Camp. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up early and join us this summer to make your own jazz history.

Instruments Accepted
Clarinet and Flute
Trumpet, French Horn
Trombone and All Low Brass
Piano & Keyboards
Vibes & Marimba

Placement Screenings

Short placement meetings will be held on Sunday afternoon from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. These are to assess each student’s level and to aid in the most educational week possible. Participants should be prepared to perform:

  • A prepared tune of the student’s choosing. This should include improvisation (*see footnote)
  • Improvise on a blues progression in either B-flat or F concert.
  • Various scales and chords that demonstrate the student’s knowledge of jazz theory and harmony

Piano and guitar

Demonstrate the ability to comp chord changes


Demonstrate the ability to walk a bass line


Be prepared to play in-time in a variety of styles and tempi. Be able to demonstrate swing, bossa nova, samba, funk, waltz and use of brushes.

Trumpet, saxophone, and trombone

Should perform with a play-along CD. Jamey Abersold’s Play-Along CDs are recommended. Information for ordering can be found at www.jazzbooks.com, or by calling (800) 456-1388.

Piano, bass, and guitar

You may choose to use a play-along CD, or should provide a concert lead sheet for the faculty hearing the audition to use in accompanying the student.

Sample Daily Schedule

9:00 AM Master Class
10:00 AM Combo Rehearsal
11:30 AM Improvisation
12:20 Lunch
1:20 PM Combo Rehearsal
2:15 PM Group Masterclass
3:30 PM Private Lessons (Scheduling TBD by Faculty)
5:00 PM Dinner

Final Performance – Friday at 3:00 p.m. at the Lakefront Pavilion

Additional Information

Please note: Due to unplanned scheduling conflicts, we cannot guarantee the appearance of any specific artist.

Questions? Feel free to contact us for any additional information.

Accommodations ~ Residence halls are available for the duration of the camp session. The residence halls are supervised by a professional counseling staff on duty 24 hours each day and meals are prepared under the supervision of a state-approved dietitian.

Commuter students are expected to remain at camp until the day’s activities are completed (Typically 9:am-8pm).

Registrations ~ are accepted until the camp is full. Students may be placed on a waiting list if desired. A camp questionnaire is sent after we receive your payment. All cancellations must be made in writing and received 3 weeks in advance of the start of camp for a full refund. A $50.00 processing fee will be deducted from your refund. No other refunds will be provided without 3 weeks notice.

Fees ~ Our student camp costs will be announced by January 1, 2023, which includes tuition, room and board and a camp t shirt which will be worn at the final performance. Early bird discount is $25.00 off if received before March 15. Please refer to the registration form for complete details on fees. Half payment is due with each application, with the balance due upon arrival at camp.

Commuters~ For campers that want to attend our programming but not stay in our dorms, The cost covers tuition, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening activities. Commuters arrive for their first class by 9AM, and can be picked up any time after evening activities conclude (usually around 8pm).

Scholarships ~ Each year, the Arts Center raises funds for the scholarship program. If you are interested in applying for an Arts Center scholarship, please contact the Center at 715-468-2414 or visit our website at www.shelllakeartscenter.org.

Buddy Discount~ Please refer to the FAQ page under “How does the buddy discount work?” and learn more about camp while you’re there.

Check-in/Check-out ~ Students will complete camp check-in the first day of camp. Please refer to your specific check-in times included in the camp packet. A completed medical form report, signed by the parent or guardian, must be presented at registration. This form is included in your camp packet and is available on our website. Camp packets are mailed to you a few weeks prior to your camp.

Additional Information ~ To request disability accommodations, or other special requests, please contact the Center two weeks in advance of camp. More information about camp and all of the opportunities available at the Shell Lake Arts Center can be found on our website.

Participants are admitted without regard to race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.  Shell Lake Arts Center is an inclusive organization, and we accept all artists and musicians.