Our Programs

Stax Music Academy’s After School program runs from the beginning of August through the second week of May.  The program is comprised of eight ensembles for vocalists and instrumentalists 6th-12th grade including classes for beginners on piano and a separate course for those interested in audio-engineering production. Each ensemble attends two (2) days per week (not including special rehearsals and off campus performances). The days of attendance are determined by which ensemble the student is in, for example: Premiere Percussion Ensemble rehearses on Tuesday and Thursday. During programming, students work within their group/ensemble under the direction of professional musicians/instructors on staff to improve their vocal/instrumental skills as well as teaching them to read music.  Song selections in the ensembles come traditionally from the Stax catalog of music including a variety of other music genres.  

The Typical SMA Day

Students arrive on campus as early as 3:00pm.  They receive a snack and can use early arrival time to do homework. At 4:00pm SMA begins youth development programming to teach students life skills, mental health wellness and leadership. Junior and senior students are required to take college prep and professional etiquette classes. Most ensemble sessions are 4:30-7:00pm and include music theory.  Special workshops take place throughout the year with guest speakers and/or legendary musicians. 


Students perform an annual Black History Month program and summer grand finale alongside unique performance opportunities for various companies or community events locally and sometimes out of state (based upon ensembles needed and students selected).  

Songwriting and Music Business

Stax Music Academy understands that the way to prepare its students for today’s music business is through the education of how to craft a song and knowing how to protect, distribute and promote it. This cohort is made of students within the music program who currently in high school. The course will analyze existing compositions including songs from the STAX and Motown libraries as well as Classical, Blues, Gospel, Country, Jazz, Soul, R&B, Rock, Funk, Disco, Hip-Hop, Techno/Electronica staples. Students learn how to make income from their music to have successful career.

Music Theory

Music theory is mandatory for SMA students. Our program believes music theory is a fundamental tenet of music education and although theory as part of lessons and ensemble instruction, a separate class is given to help students truly understand theory. Our classes are divided into beginner, intermediate and advance groups. Music theory examines the elements that construct a piece of music, including notation, key signatures, time signatures, and chord progressions. It allows composers to analyze the work of other composers so they can develop their own style. Music theory pays off as most SMA students test out of their first year of college music theory due to our program.

Special Program Activities

SMA Practice Challenge

Read about of New Year’s resolution: to practice more. We have initiated the SMA Practice Challenge to imbed into our program the value of practice for growth.

Soul Practice Chops

It’s important to keep up your practice chops while you’re temporarily home from school. We’re here to help! Click the “Soul Practice Chops” link above to check out videos and sheet music that you can use to practice.