Summer Jazz Institute

Jazz Students

The Program

Since its inception in 1987, the highly acclaimed Skidmore Jazz Institute has become one of the premier summer programs to study jazz in the country. Directed by Todd Coolman, the Jazz Institute continues to provide a new generation of musicians the opportunity to mingle with and learn from gifted educators and world-class performers in an intimate and supportive environment. Previous students have successfully pursued jazz-related careers in the areas of performance, teaching, and business and include Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith, Richie Barshay, Jonathan Batiste, Brandon Lee, Christian Scott, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, Ryan Cohan, and Myron Walden among others.
Students work closely with faculty in daily combo rehearsals and improvisational and special classes. Afternoon master classes offer the additional opportunity to have close contact with guest artists before seeing them perform in our evening concert series. On Friday afternoons the student combos (arranged according to instrument and level of ability) perform, and on the weekend everyone attends the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.


Sample Daily Schedule

  • 8:30–10 a.m. Combo rehearsal
  • 10:15–noon Lessons or practice
  • 12:15 Lunch
  • 1:30 p.m. Performance class or special topic
  • 3:00 p.m. Master class with faculty member or guest artist
  • 8:00 p.m. Guest artist or faculty sextet performance

Avid Pro Tools Workshop

This new workshop, offered during the two-week summer Institute, will give students a hands-on opportunity to learn a basic understanding of Avid Pro Tools, the preeminent recording software in the music industry. Students will participate in and observe the recording process and gain a better understanding of how editing and mixing techniques can be utilized to capture and enhance their music. These sessions, taught in the Zankel Music Center by John Nazarenko, Skidmore College Senior Artist-in-Residence, will show musicians how to use the latest recording techniques to promote themselves and further develop their compositions, arrangements, and musical skills.  

Concerts with Institute guest artists and the Skidmore Faculty are scheduled on weekday evenings. The 2014 guest artists are expected to be announced shortly. Click here to see a list of the Institute’s previous guest artists.

Participants will also attend the Freihofer's Jazz Festival at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center the weekend of June 28–29. For more information on this summer’s festival, visit:

The Setting

All Jazz Institute classes and concerts take place in the award-winning Arthur Zankel Music Center. This state-of-the-art music center has been honored by the American Institute of Architects for architectural design and merit, and the Brazilian Guitar Quartet received a Latin Grammy Award for Best Classical Record [Brazilian Guitar Quartet Plays Villa-Lobos] recorded in the Ladd Concert Hall. In addition to this acoustically-tuned concert hall, the building features practice rooms WITH windows, a 90-seat Elisabeth Luce Moore Hall for lectures and recitals, electronic music laboratory, piano lab, classrooms, and the Grossman Recording Studio.

Program participants who live on Skidmore’s campus will be housed in one of the College’s residence halls. Dormitory rooms are spacious and feature free Internet access and cable television. The dining hall offers a nutritionally balanced menu with ample vegetarian options. Participants will have use of the College’s library, swimming pool, weight and fitness rooms, lighted tennis courts, track, and North Woods hiking trails.

Instrument Information

Participants are responsible for bringing their own instruments (this includes drums, acoustic bass, guitars) and any necessary equipment (amplifiers, extension cords, reeds). You will want to bring your Real Book, if you own one, and staff paper; music stands are provided. Bass players will find a wheel helpful.

If you are traveling to Saratoga Springs by air, please check with your airline to be aware of any flight restrictions concerning your instruments. Information on renting instruments locally will be provided closer to the start of the program.


If you would like to ship your drums before arriving on campus, please contact Wendy Kercull ( to let her know when they will be arriving. They will be secured in your rehearsal space for you to unpack and set up upon arrival.

Please ship drums to:

Wendy Kercull
Arthur Zankel Music Center
Skidmore College
815 N. Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866