Mt. Tabor Middle School Jazz

Program Description

Montavilla Jazz seeks to revive Mt. Tabor Middle School’s jazz ensemble classes, bringing resources in the form of funding and expertise to bear to ensure its success and sustainability.

Jazz band meets three mornings per week for ninety minute rehearsals in the band room at Mt. Tabor Middle School. The three class period format was developed to support students with varying levels of experience.


  1. To provide an introduction to, and instruction in, the instrumental performance practices, and the cultural and historical significance, of the art form known as jazz. 
  2. To prepare Mt. Tabor Middle School musicians for high school level musical opportunities and ensure students are on par with their peers from other schools in the district.

Beginning Jazz

In Beginning Jazz students can join who have little to no experience playing jazz. One year of experience playing their instrument is recommended but not required. Beginning Jazz will focus on jazz basics, blues form, and introduce basic scales used for improvisation.

Advanced Jazz

Advanced Jazz is ideal for students who have some experience playing jazz and at least a year of instruction on their instrument. Advanced Jazz will focus on more difficult arrangements of jazz standards and explore a variety of performance styles including latin, funk, and fusion.

MTMS Combined Jazz Ensemble

The MTMS Combined Jazz Ensemble will be required for all enrolled in the jazz band program. The Combined Ensemble will focused on the standard jazz large ensemble repertoire, giving students the opportunity to improve their music reading and large ensemble performance skills.

Who benefits?

Jazz ensembles will support Mt. Tabor Middle School’s band program by providing additional opportunities for his band students to learn instrumental performance practices, broaden their understanding of the significant role that jazz plays in the history of band ensemble music, including innovations to performance techniques that are specific to jazz.

The community benefits from having jazz band performances that showcase the talents of Mt. Tabor Middle School students. In years past the jazz band has performed at a number of community events including the annual Mt. Tabor PTA fundraiser.

What will be different?

The new Beginning and Advanced Jazz Ensembles at Mt. Tabor Middle School will differ from past incarnations of jazz band with increased support for the band director, higher pay, and funding for materials, events, and special guest clinics. In addition, the program can be structured so that tuition is lower for students–this would be contingent on support from the community, sponsors, and grant funding.

We plan to attract qualified, experienced candidates by paying our independently contracted jazz band director a fair wage inline with standards set forth by our programming resource partner Young Audiences.

In addition, we will support the director’s work by providing a starter budget to purchase ensemble charts. MJF will also provide a small budget for events which can be used to bring in guest artists for clinics.

What’s possible?

If MTMS has a thriving jazz program in partnership with Montavilla Jazz, our community will have the opportunity to see our kids gain skills in, and appreciation for, America’s indeigeonous art form. A thriving jazz program could lead to opportunities for MTMS students to participate in regional jazz festival competitions, and the Montavilla Jazz Festival as well. Through this pilot program we hope to show that this format would work in other schools in the area, expanding the program and its donors and supporters.

Meet Director Jeffrey Chilton

Jeffrey Chilton holds a B.M. in Music Education with a Jazz Concentration from Ithaca College. After graduating, Chilton worked for 2 years aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise ships, before settling in Portland. Chilton performs with a variety of indie, hip hop, jazz, and funk projects around town. Chilton leads Jay Si Proof, a Portland based collective of modern jazz and hip hop performers currently working on an original album. In addition to performing, Chilton manages a private trombone studio and works closely with music educators in Portland Public Schools. He directs an annual Brass Band Workshop for High School students and offers sectionals and clinics for brass and jazz groups. He is currently on staff at Beaumont Middle School and Cleveland High School as a sectional coach.