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Grass Valley VOCAL JAZZ

Grass Valley VOCAL JAZZ

is an ensemble of public school students in grades 3-4-5, complete with a student rhythm section (piano/bass/drums). Under the direction of Natalie Wilson, these 8-11 year-olds attend Grass Valley Elementary in Camas, Washington and rehearse for 60 minutes each week after school. 


No audition is necessary to participate in GVVJ and students possess a wide range of abilities. With personal, academic, social, racial and economic diversity, these students demonstrate a passion for America's music with confidence! Their dedication to each other and to the music is highly commendable. Their performance ability is exceptional as evidenced by the many accolades they have achieved.


GVVJ proudly performs in numerous school concerts, community events, and jazz festivals annually. 


GVVJ has been fortunate to be recognized in the music world for their contributions to jazz music. The concept and existence of an elementary vocal jazz ensemble is rare. That said, it has not stopped GVVJ from participating in jazz festivals/award applications and winning awards in the junior high division.

2019 Downbeat CO-WINNER Lg. Vocal Jazz Ensemble

2018 Downbeat "Outstanding Performance" Award

2015/2018 Downbeat "Outstanding Soloist" 

2013-2014  Downbeat" Outstanding Performance" Award

2012 Downbeat "Special Judge's Award"

2012 Winner MS/JH Division NW Vocal Jazz Festival

2011 Winner MS/JH Division NW Vocal Jazz Festival

2010 2nd Place MS/JH Division NW Vocal Jazz Festival

2006 Downbeat Award


Professional Conferences

Jazz Artist Collaborations

Grass Valley VOCAL JAZZ has shared the stage with many professional jazz musicians.  In-class workshops, clinics and rehearsals have prepared the students for performances with:


  • Emily Braden

  • Kristin Korb

  • Patrick Lamb

  • Darcy Schmidt

  • Melissa Fisher

  • Kirk Marcy

  • Kevin Mahogany

  • Todd Johnson

  • Steve Zegree

  • John Hollenbeck

  • Pamela York

  • Louise Rose

  • Terry Blaine

  • Lorraine Feather


GVVJ has performed in concert and as a demonstration group for these professional organization conferences:


Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA)

American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)

Lower Columbia River Music Educators Association (LCRMEA)

International Association of Jazz Education (IAJE)

What Makes GVVJ So Special?

  • Non-audition ensemble

  • Young age of the members (8-11)

  • Student rhythm section members

  • Performing with stylistic integrity

  • Vocal and instrumental improvisation

  • Dedicated and excited to try new ideas

  • Willing to explore jazz concepts/forms/styles

  • Learning/performing jazz standards

  • Composing/arranging songs together

  • Interacting frequently with jazz professionals

  • Inspirational performances on/off the stage

  • Appreciating America's music - jazz!

Grass Valley Elementary School's Jazz Choir in Vancouver, WA 2013 directed by Natalie Wilson. Arrangement by Teena Chinn.

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