Apr 26, 2013

FVCC to Offer New Vocal Jazz Ensemble

Flathead Valley Community College will add a vocal jazz ensemble to its growing list of music-related course offerings this fall.  Instructed by Nicole Sanford, members of the ensemble will prepare and perform vocal jazz literature of the past and present.

Sanford holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from The University of Montana and a Master of Arts degree in choral conducting and jazz studies from Washington State University.  It was during her master’s training that she discovered her love of jazz music.

“Once I got into jazz, I couldn’t stop; it’s addicting,” said Sanford.  “I love teaching jazz because it frees up students for expression and builds their creativity and confidence while teaching them really strong vocalization techniques like improvisation and harmonies.”

The course will include some improvisation and ear training, but the primary focus will be getting together to practice and perform.  Sanford says the technical components of learning to sing jazz music can help vocalists sing all genres of music.

“Jazz is big in certain circles within Montana, but I would like to see jazz become even more prevalent, especially in the schools,” she said.

Sanford hopes to grow the ensemble to 16 people, both male and female.  Her plan is for the group to rehearse many varied jazz numbers with a live jazz band and perform at college and community events as well as at their own concerts.

Upon completion of her undergraduate degree, Sanford taught for two years in Shelby, Mont., instructing choir for grades six through 12.  Sanford has performed in various musicals and traveling groups, and she served as an assistant director for the Continental Singers.  She has traveled, performed and expanded her musical education in locations around the world including Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany, the East and West Coasts of the United States and Kenya.  She also is currently the choir teacher at Whitefish High School.

Participants are not required to audition at this point, though some chorale or jazz experience is preferred.  The one-credit vocal jazz ensemble course is open to students and community members, and will meet on Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. starting August 29.  For more information about the vocal jazz ensemble, contact Sanford at 207-5292.  For information on how to register, visit or call 756-3848.  For information on the music program at FVCC, contact Music Program Advisor Karla West at 756-3918.