6105 Creating Exciting Jazz Rhythm Sections


Join Our Mailing List

Recital Highlights

This course is designed to help jazz band directors create dynamic, swinging, grooving, and exciting rhythm sections in their jazz ensembles. Each day of the week will be devoted to a different instrument of the rhythm section, with the final day bringing all the instruments together to perform for the class and read charts.  Participants will have a chance to learn in-depth about each instrument, and have the opportunity to experience playing the instruments individually and as part of the section. Taught by four master teachers, this class is sure to be fun, exciting, and above all, educational. Participants should bring a pair of drumset sticks, as well as their primary instrument for playing on Friday.


Instructors: Bret Kuhn, Anthony Kidonakis, Stacy Williams-Jackson & Jack Grassel


Bret Kuhn is a graduate of Northeast Missouri State University with a Bachelors degree where he studied percussion with Dan Peterson. Bret served as Caption Head and Percussion Arranger for the World Champion Cavaliers who won 6 World Championships and 5 High Percussion Awards during his tenure. He also consulted with the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps 2006-2008. In 2010 he served as Program Coordinator for the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. He is currently consulting with Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. Bret is the percussion coordinator for the Prospect High School music program and is also adjunct faculty at Northern Illinois University as well as Vandercook College of Music.
Bret is currently very active as an arranger for various high school and universities through out the US and Japan. To name a few BOA finalists they would include former percussion arranger for LD Bell High School(2006-2009) and Broken Arrow High School 2012. He also arranges for Northern Illinois University and The Aimachi Marching Band and Indoor Drumline from Nagoya, Japan.
Bret has written articles for publication in Percussive Notes Magazine and served on the Board of Directors for the Percussive Arts Society from 2005-2012. Bret is also a member of The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, known as ASCAP. He travels extensively presenting clinics across the United States, Japan and Europe for Yamaha, Zildjian, Remo and Innovative Percussion.
Kidonakis,_Tony_headshot_2013Anthony Kidonakis joined the faculty of VanderCook in the Fall of 2009. He earned his bachelor of music education from Northern Illinois University, studying saxophone with distinguished research professor Steve Duke. Mr. Kidonakis performed and recorded with the NIU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Squires, and toured the United States and Europe with the world-renown NIU Jazz Ensemble and legends such as Benny Golson, Curtis Fuller, Jimmy Heath, Ed Thigpen, Frank Foster, and Wynton Marsalis under the direction of Ronald Carter. Mr. Kidonakis maintains an active performance schedule with numerous local musicians and has worked with recording artists such as The Drifters, Gene "Duke of Earl" Chandler, and The Cryan Shames, including a guest appearance with The Redwalls on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He taught band for five years in Downers Grove Grade School District 58, and is the composer for the Paideia Projects, a series of video documentaries on the contributions of Ancient Greece to Western civilization. Mr. Kidonakis earned his master of music education from VanderCook College of Music in 2009, and a Master of Wind Performance and Literature from Northwestern University in 2012, studying saxophone with and serving as a teaching assistant for Dr. Frederick L. Hemke.
Stacy Williams-Jackson received her Bachelor in Instrumental Music Education/Jazz Emphasis from Millikin University in 1997, where she studied bass with Glenn Dewey, John Fremgen, Peter Huffaker, and Catlin Rotaru.  She has been on staff at Lincoln-Way Central High School since 1997, where her duties have included orchestra, jazz band, beginning and intermediate strings, music technology, guitar, and individualized music for special needs students. Ms. Williams-Jackson has served as jazz representative for the IMEA District I from 2004-2007, and has been a guest jazz director for District I, District VIII, and District V festivals.  She has twice presented jazz bass clinics at the Illinois Music Education Conference, and is always ready and willing to help fellow directors better understand the care and feeding of her favorite instrument.   When not at Lincoln-Way Central, Stacy enjoys sitting in with local big bands, perfecting her pancake recipe, and spending time with her family.


Jack Grassel is a jazz artist known for his adventurous concerts, books, inventions, CDs, compositions, and extraordinary musical abilities which include perfect pitch.
Jack's music career began early at age 3, when his father started him on music lessons. By age four, he was performing professionally with the "Bar O Ranch", a traveling variety show, and on television and radio. He enjoyed years of personal tutelage by his mentors, Jimmy Wyble, George Van Eps, Tal Farlow and Joe Daley which helped father his unique style. Mr. Grassel has played over 12,000 performances in every conceivable musical situation. Among his favorites are duets with Luciano Pavarotti, concerts with Melvin Rhyne, Rosemary Clooney, Tal Farlow and other name artists too numerous to mention.
In a nation-wide poll, Guitar One Magazine readers voted him "One of the 10 Best Guitarists in America...". This winner of seven WAMI awards as Jazz Artist and Guitarist Of The Year maintains a busy schedule. Twice, the readers of the Milwaukee Shepherd newspaper voted Jack "Best Jazz Artist". Guitarists the world over have studied his 10 books, DVD and 19 recordings which feature his 70 compositions. Jack Grassel's popular Big Ax book trilogy is the groundbreaking system for playing melody, chords and bass simultaneously on a standard guitar. (This groundbreaking technique is displayed on three CDs). His instructional columns have enlightened readers of Guitar Player and Just Jazz Guitar magazines while his past students are a legion of the world's finest musicians.
Learn more about Jack and his work, visit
Read about Jack's life in music, visit


Click to Register for Summer MECA Courses

Course Information

6105 Creating Exciting Jazz Rhythm Sections

3 graduate credits
Location: VCM 3125 Room M116

Click HERE for a campus map.

Tuition: $930 (includes $75 resource fee)
A $75 deposit is required at time of registration. Tuition balance is due in full by the first day of class.

June 15-19
Monday - Thursday: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.


VanderCook College of Music

3140 South Federal Street
Chicago, IL 60616-3731
(312) 225-6288

Stay Connected


Continuing Education  




Powered by Website design and development by, Inc