The DJAM curriculum

Below you find an overwiew of all subjects of the DJAM curriculum.


The combo lessons are the core of the curriculum at DJAM, where you can use all your skills from the other lessons by playing together, improvising and studying pieces and arrangements.

Besides arrangements of jazz standards, pieces are also taught which are specially composed for the different levels at DJAM. The various combos will give a short performance during the Christmas concert and open house/closing concert.

Play-along cd’s containing all the pieces treated during lessons (part of the lesson materials) will be made available for students, as well a mp3 cd containing original recordings of (for example) jazz standards (part of the lesson materials).

The various combos will give a short performance during the Christmas concert and open house/closing concert.

Duration: prep. level to level 2: one lesson á 90 minutes a week; level 3: one lesson á 130 minutes a week; advanced level: one lesson á 180 minutes a week

Watch performances of diverse DJAM combos here.

Music Theory

DJAM is convinced that the study of music theory leads to a deeper level in music-making. In addition to understanding musical content you improve your rhythmic skills and your musical ear. Communication in a band gets easier because you better understand how music is organized, and it improves your ability to identify sound. Music theory at DJAM is anything but a ‘dry’ subject. On the contrary, in the classes we often play our instruments or sing. This creates a direct link with your playing. Our experience also shows that playing and singing helps memorizing the material much better. Music Theory at DJAM is always geared towards better music making.

In order to do homework for music theory you must have access to a chordal instrument or be able to use one frequently. Pianists, guitarists and accordionists are already provided for that matter. For our theory lessons there are accompanying CDs and books available containing all the material you need (part of the lesson materials). The CD recordings are also available for download at our student site.

Each level of music theory at DJAM has a different name and set-up. Level 1 to 3 is our basic training. Here music theory is divided into 4 different subjects (harmony, improvisation, ear training and rhythm). At the preparatory or advanced level these subjects are bundled in Theory VB (preparatory) or Theory GV (advanced).

  1. Theory VB (preparatory level)
    These are theory classes at a beginners level, designed for students who are not yet able to read music. Or for students who already read a bit, but who still have difficulty singing along or replaying tones and/or rhythms. In addition to learn how to read music you take your first steps in harmony, ear training, rhythm, improvisation and piano/guitar skills. After completing level VB you are well prepared for level 1.
    Duration: One lesson á 90 minutes a week
  2. Harmony
    How does music actually work? That’s what this class is all about. Topics include: intervals, scales, keys, chords. At higher levels we add step analysis, chord extensions and voice leading.
    Duration: One lesson á 50 minutes every other week
  3. Improvisation
    In this class you improve your melodic, harmonic and rhythmic soloing. Phrasing and variation are recurring subjects. Links are established with the subjects harmony, rhythm and ear training. For example, how can you use the learned scales? How can this be applied to a chord progression?
    Duration: One lesson á 50 minutes every other week
  4. Rhythm
    In this class we are dealing with rhythms, both in playing and singing, an important skill. In addition we improvise rhythms and learn to notate them. We are also working on improving your timing within a particular style. Mastering the swing feel plays a big role in this. At higher levels the rhythms get more complex and the tempos go up.
    Duration: One lesson á 50 minutes every other week
  5. Ear-training
    In this class you train your musical ear. You try to recognize, replay and notate different intervals, scales, chords, melodies and chord progressions The goal is to improve your inner hearing, which will ideally help you to hear what you play in advance. A minimum of skills on the piano or guitar is important for this class because these instruments help you check the results.
    Duration: One lesson á 50 minutes every other week
  6. Theory GV (advanced level)
    Theory GV can be seen as an extension of the basic theoretical training. Here the emphasis is on applying what has been learned before. Fixed issues include solos and analysis, arranging, and analysis of combo pieces. Prerequisite for participation in theory GV is completion of harmony level 3 and at least one other theoretical subject on this level.
    Duration: One lesson á 90 minutes a week

APM (Additional Practical Modules)

Classes divided in different modules which form an important addition to the core subjects combo, theory and main subject. The modules are: II-V-I progressions, soloing, modal improvisation, arranging and analyses of combo pieces. Other modules: listening to Jazz and Jazz history. Each module takes 2 to 6 weeks.

Duration: One lesson á 60 minutes a week

Instrumental lessons (main subject)

These are individual lessons dealing with the student’s specific instrument. Main subject lessons complement the subject matter of the other lessons and generally guide you through your musical development. Main subject lessons can be taken for any instrument.

Duration: One lesson á 50 minutes a week

Subjects per week and level



Combo Theory prep Harmony Improvisatiom Rhythm Ear-
Theory advanced APM Main subject