Utah Stories

American Fork’s Own Jazz School

Caleb Chapman’s American Fork jazz school is one of the top in the nation.


Jazz-10Many of the best young jazz musicians in the country live right here in Utah.  Caleb Chapman Music, located in American Fork, has become an internationally renowned program that trains young musicians in a variety of genres such as jazz, rock and pop.

The school was first opened by accomplished saxophonist Caleb Chapman and his wife in 1999.  During a road trip, his wife observed that he would be wasting his musical talent by doing an MBA program and said he should instead open a music school.  It was a huge risk for two young college students.  “We were totally broke students,” Chapman says.  “It seemed like a crazy idea to both of us.  We were sure it wouldn’t be much of anything.”  A month later, the school opened.

At present, Chapman’s teaching has received top honors from all over the world, including Jazz Education Network, Berklee School of Music and Down Beat Magazine.  The school now boasts over 200 young musicians, ranging in age from 11 to 18, and has 17 different bands.

Originally started as private instruction, the school now works to provide musicians with an after-school band that allows them to understand the professional world of music.  Several of the school’s alumni have gone on to perform in well-known groups, such as Andrew Tolman, a founding member of Imagine Dragons.

“We do require that all participants take outside music lessons and are involved in school programs,” Chapman adds.  Most students go on to earn scholarships from their desired schools such as UC-Berkeley, USC, Julliard, BYU, UVU, and the U of U.  “One hundred percent of our seniors who graduated have gotten significant scholarships.  It’s a massive return on investment.”

Students also have the opportunity to travel the world.  Chapman’s groups have played in every major American city and throughout Europe.    In May 2013, his flagship group, Crescent Superband, headlined their own night at Carnegie Hall. School members have recorded with Grammy-winning artists including Maroon 5, the Rolling Stones and AC/DC.  Crescent Superband has also made waves on a local level, earning the “Best of State” award for a professional ensemble during the last eight years.

About a third of his students go on to a professional career is music, but Chapman says that the involvement with art alone is worth it.  “Any pursuit at a higher level is a template to be successful for whatever the next phase is for these kids. What we really need more than millions of professional musicians is professionals who can understand and support the continuation of the arts.”

Chapman looks on as his students perform. Photo by Mike Jones

Chapman plans to expand his business to Denver this fall. For more information visitwww.calebchapmanmusic.com.

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