Flynn Education

Flynntones Jazz Ensemble

Ages 13-18
February 14-June 5*
Wednesdays 7-8:30 pm
Tuition for this class is available on a sliding scale. Full tuition for each class and camp goes towards staff time, facility maintenance, and the supplies we need to offer high-quality, safe, and fun programs for all ages.

*No class on 2/28, 3/13, 4/24, and 5/8


This small jazz ensemble for intermediate instrumentalists and vocalists in grades seven through 12 with an interest in jazz plays a wide variety of music by composers such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone. The small ensemble setting of this group is particularly designed for students looking to build their improvisational skills. While all students are encouraged (although not required) to improvise, class time is devoted to foundational skills for the improviser, including building a vocabulary of scales and melodic patterns.


Students who are new to the ensemble can choose one of two ways to audition for the group:

  • Sign up for an audition the week before the first rehearsal.  For the audition, students are encouraged to bring one or two prepared pieces in any style which demonstrate their musical strengths and interests.  Playing a jazz tune with or without improvisation is encouraged but not required.  Students on all instruments except drums will also be asked to play major scales in a few keys of their choice and to do some sight reading (this is not a deal breaker part of the audition but rather a chance for the director to assess the overall skill level of the group.)  Students on chord instruments (piano, bass or guitar) will be asked to sight read a short chord progression (between 8 and 16 measures) from chord symbols, and drummers will be asked to play in variety of standard jazz time feels (swing, bossa nova, waltz, etc.) from the rhythms with which they are familiar.  
  • Alternatively, students who feel comfortable enough with their reading and playing skills can opt to have their audition as part of the first rehearsal, either simply through their playing of group repertoire in the rehearsal and/or through a short audition meeting after the first rehearsal (charts may be available ahead of time; please email for details).  
  • In either case, the audition will be followed with a brief discussion about placement in the group now or at a later time. Please feel free to contact Tom Cleary at with any questions about the content of auditions; to schedule an audition, follow the link above and complete the audition form.  


Tom Cleary studied jazz performance at Hampshire College, where his teachers included Yusef Lateef and Archie Shepp, and music education and classical piano performance the University of Vermont, where his teachers included Sylvia Parker and Elizabeth Metcalfe.  As a pianist and keyboardist he has had extended collaborations with artists including Phish bassist Mike Gordon (with whom he did a number of tours between 2008 and 2014), James Harvey, Ray Vega, Patricia Julien, and Jamie Masefield.  With vocalist Amber deLaurentis he co-leads the quartet Birdcode, which released You Are Here in 2019; his work as an arranger and player can be heard on deLaurentis' solo albums Innocent Road and Hey Sadie and Paul Asbell's Burmese Panther.   He has accompanied artists including Clark Terry, Lester Bowie, Fontella Bass, Ernie Watts, Judi Silvano, Joe Lovano, Joan Rivers and Steve Earle.  As a composer, his work has been commissioned and recorded by groups including Social Band, Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble; the musical Mill Girls, on which he collaborated with director/playwright Peter Harrigan, is being revived in an online production this year at Saint Michael's College. He teaches in the jazz studies program of the UVM Music Department, the Flynn jazz program, and his home studio. Check out his music with Birdcode and his UVM blog.


Everyone deserves the chance to experience and participate in arts education. Our classes are structured on a pay-what-you-can model. 

When you register, you will be able to select your contribution from a sliding scale.

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