Thurnauer School of Music

Performance Ensembles


Playing and singing in an ensemble gives students the incredible experience of performing with friends. Being in an ensemble teaches students how to listen and collaborate effectively with other musicians and instills valuable life skills.

The JCC Thurnauer School of Music has large and small ensembles for children and adults, including chorus, orchestra, chamber music, jazz band, jazz combo, and more.  Most ensembles require an audition and all ensembles perform during the school year. 

For information, please call 201.408.1466.

Audition for 2023-24 Ensembles

Auditions available in-person and virtually.

View audition requirements

Call 201.408.1466 to schedule an audition.


Young People’s Chorus @Thurnauer

Emma Brondolo, Artistic Director

For detailed information and to register, visit the Young People’s Chorus at Thurnauer page.

String Camerata

Carey White, Conductor

An exciting first orchestral experience for intermediate string players. Students learn how to listen, follow a conductor, and use their voices collaboratively and effectively to create something beautiful. Students experience the joys of making music and performing together as a group in this small ensemble setting.

30 Wed Starts 10/11/23 5:30-6:30pm

Thurnauer Symphony Orchestra

Diego Garcia, Artistic Director 


An excellent educational and nurturing environment where students gain a strong understanding of orchestral music and develop their ensemble skills. Students perform standard symphonic repertoire, popular selections and contemporary works. Sectional workshops focus on score studying, analysis and form, and interpretation skills. Winners of an annual concerto competition perform in a special concert.

Starts 10/11/23

Chamber Music

Francesca Silos, Director

Study and play some of the most beautiful music ever written. This ensemble experience offers instrumentalists the opportunity to learn chamber music while developing invaluable skills in musical expression. Working in small groups, students cultivate sophisticated listening skills, individual expressiveness and ensemble cohesion.

Starts 10/9/23

Flute Choir

Noelle Perrin-Bryson, Director 

JUNIOR FLUTE CHOIR: Intermediate-advanced flutists in grades 5-8 will enjoy making music together as they explore the challenges of the flute choir repertoire. Come join us to connect with fellow flutists in exciting practice and performance collaborations.

Starts 10/10/23

SENIOR FLUTE CHOIR: Advanced flutists in grades 9-12 will enjoy making music together as they explore the challenges of the flute choir repertoire. Come join us to connect with fellow flutists in exciting practice and performance collaborations.

Starts 10/10/23

Percussion Ensemble

Jeff Kraus, Conductor

Prerequisite: Percussion Ensemble is open to students at all levels of percussion study: older beginners, intermediate and advanced. Students must have basic rhythmic reading skills with quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes, and rests. Basic keyboard ability with scales and treble clef reading is preferred but not conditional.

Concurrent private lessons, either at the Thurnauer School or elsewhere, are required to learn parts. The notion of drummers playing together harks back to the beginning of mankind. Percussion Ensemble comes from that energy combined with the wealth of written pieces over the past century and fills a need for young players to have their own chamber music outlet. Students share melody, harmony and rhythm playing drums, marimba, timpani, hand drums, hand percussion and many other instruments. Young percussionists improve overall musicianship, especially their skill in following a conductor. Intermediate and advanced percussionists have the opportunity to play as well in the Teen Town Jazz Ensembles and Thurnauer Symphony Orchestra.

Starts 10/12/23

Teen Town Jazz Big Band

Steve Johns and Debbie Keefe Johns, Directors  

AGES 12+ Minimum 2 years instrumental experience required.

Play in a standard big band with arrangements in various styles of jazz including blues, swing, bebop, Afro-Cuban, modern and fusion in a 15-20 piece large ensemble comprising brass, woodwind and rhythm sections. Students develop reading and improvisation skills, with opportunities for section playing, blending, interpretation and soloing.

Explore the many ways you can learn and play jazz! Available for all instruments.

Starts 10/15/23

Teen Town Jazz Combo

Michael Cochrane, Director

AGES 12+ Minimum 2 years instrumental experience required.

Play jazz standards in various styles including blues, swing, bebop, Afro-Cuban, modern and fusion in a small group of 4-8 musicians, comprising brass, woodwind and rhythm sections. Students develop ensemble playing and solo improvisation skills, learn how to express themselves and collaborate musically, and memorize songs, melodies, harmonies and chord progressions. Students also learn basic jazz theory: intervals, chords, basic harmonic progressions, voice-leading, scale theory, and form. Students observe, listen to, and learn about historical jazz figures, genres, and styles to provide the basis for understanding the evolution of musical trends and ideas.

Starts 10/15/23

Ensemble X—Contemporary Music

Zach Herchen, Conductor

Ages 13+

For intermediate and advanced musicians and composers with roughly 4+ years of experience playing music

Prerequisite: Performance applicants must submit a video performance of a piece of their choice. Composer applicants must submit a PDF score (and if possible a recording or digital rendering) of an original composition.

Students explore contemporary music creation through composition, improvisation and performance in this weekly class.  The program focuses on the creation of new music through collaboration between student instrumentalists and student composers. Students explore modern compositional styles and performance techniques — learning some history, creating their own new approaches, and thinking beyond traditional formats to create music that is uniquely theirs. Classes include ensemble rehearsal, lessons on history and performance technique, and masterclasses with special guest faculty. Students benefit from collaborating with Thurnauer’s composition workshop, Sound Kitchen and Sound Works. This program culminates in the performance of newly composed music.

Starts  10/15/23 12:30-1:30 pm

Video Game Orchestra

Zach Herchen, Conductor

AGES 13+

This performance group ensemble explores the variety of music in video games. From orchestral melodies to 8-bit chip tunes, jazz and more, this ensemble will engage students in the music they love and recognize from video games. As we learn to perform each piece, students will expand their understanding of rhythm, harmony and musical composition.

Audition is required. Applications must submit a video performance of one piece of their choice, to be reviewed by the instructor.

Starts 10/10/23

Shirah Community Chorus

Marsha Bryan Edelman, Conductor

One of the largest independent Jewish choruses in the United States performing Jewish repertoire in Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Ladino, in three and four parts. New singers who are interested in joining are welcome to attend our first rehearsal on Tuesday, September 5 at 7:30 pm. For more information, contact choral director Marsha Edelman at

Full Year: $275/$315
One Semester: $150/$170


Why should my child study music?

  • In addition to the enormous personal enjoyment music brings, music study helps children learn how to learn.
  • Attending lessons and practicing an instrument each day teaches focus, concentration, patience, critical thinking and reflection – skills we use throughout our lives.
  • Studies have shown that “students engaged in music programs outperformed their peers on every indicator: grade-point average, graduation rate, ACT scores, attendance and discipline referrals.”
  • KU research establishes link between music education and academic achievement

Why should my child study at the JCC Thurnauer School of Music?

  • A school environment creates a community of musicians who inspire, motivate and befriend each other.
  • Students benefit musically and psychologically from the expertise of our excellent faculty, the School’s warm, nurturing atmosphere and the experience of hearing other students make music at different levels of musical development.
  • The Thurnauer School offers a stimulating variety of classes, performances, workshops, and recital opportunities.

Can my child just take private lessons at the Thurnauer School?

  • As an introduction to learning an instrument, students can take just a private lesson, but only during their first year at the school. Thereafter, all students must take one or more components as part of their music program.
  • Making music with others quickens the pace of learning and accomplishment. We also find that students have fun in these classes and that this is not only enriching but also highly motivational to them.
  • Children in a full program of music study are “stretched”, musically and intellectually, as they learn new things and exchange musical and verbal ideas with their peers.
  • A program that is limited to private lessons lacks the richness of learning about music. The more we understand, the more joy there is in playing and listening.

When should my child begin the study of music?

  • Learning about music can begin at birth. However, the best age to start an instrument varies with the instrument and the child’s physical development. For example, violinists and flutists can begin as young as 3, whereas trumpet players should be at least 8.
  • For children who are not yet ready to begin private lessons, we recommend our early childhood classes: Musical Explorers, Instrument Exploration, Piano Partners, and Young Drummers.
  • Our classes for young children stand on their own, but they are also developmental, and will introduce skills to help your child with further musical study if it’s desired. “Developmental” also means dynamic; each week builds on the previous lesson.

How should we help our child select an instrument?

  • The choice of instrument depends on the child’s interests, temperament and size. Most children have a natural affinity for a particular instrument or sound and, if given the chance to choose, will know what they like.
  • We encourage sitting in on lessons and classes at our School. Please contact our scheduling director to arrange for a visit or a trial lesson: 201-567-7900 Ext. 375 or
  • Attending professional concerts and student recitals with your child can also spark interest in a particular instrument. Children are welcome to attend any of our student recitals.

How do we select an instrumental teacher for your child?

At the Thurnauer School, a great deal of care is given to finding the best “match” from among our fine faculty. Music School Director Dorothy Roffman meets individually with each new student and parent(s) prior to enrollment, observing the child and learning about the family before assigning a teacher.

What is the registration process for new students?

The process is all handled online. It includes completing the registration form, enrolling in your choice of lessons and class, completing the scheduling forms, submitting a tuition deposit and, if you are enrolling ina private lesson program, scheduling a meeting with the Music School Director.

Do I need to register for the entire year?

With the exception of some early childhood classes, our curriculum is designed as a full, 30 week program. That said, you can withdraw within the first five weeks of classes for a prorated tuition and a $75 processing charge. Thereafter, partial refunds are available as stipulated in our Terms and Conditions.

Does the Music School offer a payment plan?

Yes. You can set up an eight month payment plan that withdraws funds from your bank account or charges your credit card automatically each month.

Does the Music School offer Financial Aid?

Yes. The Music School has a number of endowed funds earmarked for this purpose, and over 15%of our students receive some form of tuition scholarship. Scholarship forms are available online, or you may request one from the Financial Manager, Dan Jatovsky at

Are discounts available?

Yes. The following discounts are available for you and your family to enjoy the gift of music:

Sibling Discount
Save $25 off total tuition for a class or performance ensemble (if not part of a Private Lesson Program) SAVE $90 off total tuition for a Private Lesson Program

Refer a Friend Discount
Refer a new family who registers for private music lessons and you both get $100 off tuition

Get In Touch

Contact Us

A pair of adult hands and child hands holding a red heart.