Frequently Asked Questions

Do students have to audition to be accepted to the Stax Music Academy (SMA)?

In most cases, for a vocalist or instrumentalist to audition for one of our current ensembles (or more than one), potential students should have some level of musical experience. However, we do offer beginner lessons in piano for 6th-9th graders and we offer audio engineering/production for students without musical experience.

Is there tuition and does SMA offer scholarships?

Yes. Tuition for the After School program that runs from August to May is $1,000 a year. Tuition for the Summer Music Experience in June is $500. SMA does offer discounted tuition and scholarships based on merit and financial need.

Does SMA provide transportation to and from the program?

No. SMA does not provide transportation and it is the responsibility of the student and his or her family to provide transportation to and from SMA. Also, in some cases we will try to connect families with students in the same schools for carpooling opportunities. SMA does offer transportation to many off-campus performances and touring travel opportunities.

What ages does SMA accept?

SMA accepts rising 6th graders through high school seniors.

Do SMA students also have to attend The Soulsville Charter School?

No. SMA students come from all over Shelby County and nearby counties in Mississippi and Arkansas. The Soulsville Charter School (TSCS), an academic college preparatory school shares the campus with SMA, and is also under the umbrella of the Soulsville Foundation.

What ensembles does SMA programming include?

SMA has seven ensembles: High School Rhythm Section, Junior Academy Ensemble, Stax Jazz Ensemble, Street Corner Harmonies, Premier Percussion Drum ensemble, Audio Engineering and Production. Students within the program may also be selected for targeted cohorts in leadership, songwriting & music business or poetry/spoken word.

What genres do students study and perform?

The core of SMA’s programming is classic soul music with particular focus on Stax Records and the Memphis Sound, but students also study and perform blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, gospel, pop, rock, and their own original music.

Does SMA provide its students with instruments?

Yes. We emphasize the importance of practice so students without instruments are provided instruments for the school year. However, many students already own their own instruments.

Are travel opportunities part of the program for every student?

No. Performance trips are not planned on a regular basis and when traveling, SMA is allowed to include only the number of students it can afford, and only the number of students needed for the travel performances. Students are chosen based on performance needs, musical ability, attendance and behavior records, and other factors.

Does SMA offer homework assistance, tutoring, college counseling?

While SMA doesn’t have a formal program in place for this, it makes every attempt to assist students with these needs on a case-by-case basis as part of the holistic approach it takes with students. SMA does work with students to ensure they are prepared for the college and post-secondary scholarship application process.

Does SMA help with college tuition for its graduates?

SMA currently is unable to provide its graduates with college tuition financial assistance.

Does SMA offering programming for adults?

SMA currently does not offer classes or programming for adults.

Does SMA offer beginner lessons?

Yes, SMA offers beginner lessons in piano for students in grades 5 – 9. Each class includes music theory and instruction time. Classes are Tuesdays 4-6 p.m. and tuition is $600 annually.

Does SMA accept students from outside Memphis?

Yes, any student may audition to enroll in SMA. SMA does not, however, provide housing or other living arrangements for students from out- of- town.

Does SMA provide food/snacks during programming hours?

Yes, SMA provides daily snacks during its After School program and June Summer Music Experience.

What kind of social services does SMA offer its students?

SMA strives to support current students, alumni, and families by providing access to resources in the Greater Memphis area. In addition, SMA provides some professional mental and emotional wellness counseling on-site for students in need.

Are parents and siblings allowed to attend SMA performances for free?

Non-ticketed performances are free, but families of students must purchase tickets to ticketed performances. SMA strives to offer discount ticket prices to family members when able.

What is the difference between the After School Program and Summer Music Experience?

The SMA After School program is August – May, 4 – 7 p.m. The June Summer Music Experience is during the month of June, Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Do students have to live in the Soulsville neighborhood to be accepted to SMA?

No, SMA accepts students from throughout Shelby County and beyond.

Does SMA require students to maintain a certain grade point average in their regular academic schools to attend?

Yes, students must maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average in their regular academic schools to remain in SMA programming.