What Makes SFCM’s Roots, Jazz, and American Music Program Special

RJAM Director Jason Hainsworth Explains 

SFCM’s Roots, Jazz, and American Music (RJAM) program is pioneering jazz education in bridging musical history to its present forms. Centered around comprehensive mentorship, earnest collaboration and innovation, and establishing lifelong connections, RJAM helps young rising musicians from around the globe thrive in and out of the jazz world. 

Director Jason Hainsworth recently gave viewers on social media insight into what makes this jazz program so special. Here are some takeaways. 

Mentorship 

RJAM is a first-of-its-kind program that links a world-class music conservatory to an award-winning jazz concert venue at SFJAZZ (just three short blocks from SFCM). Several members of the SFJAZZ Collective help make up an all-star faculty roster, including jazz titans like Carmen Bradford, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, and Warren Wolf

The best part? Students are mentored by them all—not just their applied teacher—honing their skills as a listener and collaborator, intentional improvisationalist, and well-rounded artist.

Collaboration 

Jazz isn’t a solo endeavor; it’s about musicians coming together to create their take on a classic tune or something entirely new. 

Armed with knowledge by studying the history of jazz—from its inception to the present—RJAM students are encouraged to try things, take risks, even fail and let that inform their next jam. This holds true whether they’re composing their own music, rehearsing outside of school, or performing side-by-side with high-profile artists and faculty as part of the RJAM program’s partnership with SFJAZZ.

There’s an old saying that if you can play jazz, you can play anything. The spirit of this expression applies to performance as well as learning. RJAM students become well-rounded musicians and collaborate with peers outside their area of study. Jazz majors can audition for classical music ensembles and take courses in the Technology and Applied Composition program. 

Connections

RJAM’s positive environment and tight-knit community establishes musical bonds and fosters lifelong friendships between students and faculty. Teachers who shape students' careers at SFCM have often recommended them for professional jobs during and after school.  

The Conservatory’s Professional Development and Engagement Center (affectionately called PDEC, pronounced “p-deck”) provides further connections for students. From resume workshops to yoga sessions to finance classes, PDEC rounds out the education needed to pursue the musical career of your choosing at the highest level.

Altogether, in addition to building relationships with musicians at SFCM and SFJAZZ, students expand their network by performing in multiple venues throughout the Bay Area—through connections made at SFJAZZ or the Conservatory’s Hire SFCM Musicians initiative. 

A focus on mentorship, collaboration, and making connections makes RJAM an ideal program for students to learn jazz—and so much more. 

Watch the full Q&A discussion for more information about RJAM