Our Ensembles

S.N.A.P! After School Ensembles (August – May)

Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section

The Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section is SMA’s flagship ensemble and performs many different styles of music including the Stax Records catalogue, rhythm & blues, funk, and contemporary jazz.  Students refine their accuracy of rhythm, phrasing, articulation, and music theory. Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section vocalists learn assigned vocal repertoire verbatim, perform vocal choreography, and portray proper practice and performance etiquette.

Stax Music Academy Junior Rhythm Section

Stax Junior Academy provides a solid foundation in the soul and pop idioms for 6th-9th grade students. This ensemble performs many different styles of music including the Stax Records catalogue, rhythm & blues, funk, and soul. Students build music theory and ear training skills and begin to develop accuracy of rhythm, phrasing, and articulation. Students develop essential ensemble skills and a sense of discipline within their craft. Junior Academy vocalists develop healthy vocal technique and gain an understanding of intonation, harmony, and sight-singing.

Stax Jazz Ensemble

The Stax Jazz Ensemble is a large instrumental ensemble focusing on early jazz, swing, bebop, fusion, Contemporary, and Latin styles. Students develop understanding of jazz improvisation, rhythm, harmony, and form. They furthermore develop the highest accuracy of rhythm, phrasing, and articulation.

Stax Vocal Jazz

Stax Vocal Jazz provides a solid foundation in vocal jazz technique, and trains the young singer’s ear to distinguish and appreciate various jazz music styles. The course focuses on early jazz standards, swing, and contemporary styles. They perform challenging a capella jazz arrangements as well as individual repertoire with the Soulsville Jazz Ensemble.

Street Corner Harmonies

Street Corner Harmonies is an exploratory vocal ensemble that covers a variety of genres from classical anthems, to Negro Spirituals, to 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s soul, funk, groove, and hip hop. Students engage in creative movement, spoken word, and improvisation.  The aspiring singer is transformed into the “well rounded musician” by learning the tenets of healthy singing, vocal pedagogy, music theory, and ear training. Supplemental classes include African American music history and repertoire, drama, and choreography.

Premier Percussionists

The Premier Percussion Ensemble focuses on various styles of percussion music. Students learn marching and concert percussion concepts and techniques. Scales on mallets, drum rudiments, and reading percussion music are three of many goals in this ensemble. Premier Percussionists exposes the students to different instruments in the percussion family, but also to learn how to work together as a team during performances and prepare the students for college auditions.

Stax Vocal Classics

Stax Vocal Classics serves as college preparation for vocalists who are interested in and have the potential to acquire a degree in vocal music studies. It helps students understand the importance of vocal health, practice techniques, production of sound, and presentation. It focuses on professionalism, organized thinking, and performance while learning vocal techniques, music theory, and piano skills. It also serves the purpose of broadening students’ horizons to appreciate other genres of music such as classical art song, musical theater, oratorio, and opera.

Audio Engineering and Production

The Audio Engineering and Music Production program includes beginner and college prep courses where students learn the basic functions and operations of home studio, commercial studio, and live performance production. Students gain musical sensitivity to how instruments work, develop music theory and ear training skills, and gain knowledge of different genres and how each one relates to sound recording and production.

Spoken Word

Spoken Word poetry, while often associated with hip-hop culture, also has strong ties to storytelling, modern poetry, post-modern performance, and monologue theatre, as well as jazz, blues, and folk music. It is in the DNA of Stax Records, which helped pioneer the art form through recording artists such as Isaac and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Through the Stax Music Academy’s new Spoken Word Ensemble, in partnership with Hattiloo Theater,  students will have individual sessions as well as bi-weekly group sessions. Students will have the chance to perform in major Stax Music Academy events throughout the year. Following the national Youth Speaks model, students are encouraged to use their own lives and stories as a text.