Jazz Choir Essentials

A Guide for Developing Vocal Jazz Directors

Dear ensemble directors: due to current circumstances around Covid-19 and limitations for live choir rehearsals, we've decided to postpone the release of this course until the time is right. Thanks for your understanding.

However please see below other courses offered which can be used in your current online teaching! And please feel free to reach out and tell us what works well, or what types you materials you need at this time. Wishing you well.

About This Series of Classes

Jazz Choir Essentials: A Guide for the Developing Vocal Jazz Directors is a suite of classes for choral educators who are new to directing a jazz choir, or who know the basics and want to move to the next level! This comprehensive series will guide you step-by-step through what you need to know in order to establish and/or develop a quality vocal jazz program.

Your primary instructor for the series is vocalist and veteran pedagogue, Christine Guter, faculty at The Bob Cole Conservatory / California State University, Long Beach. Christine is well-recognized in the choral community for her truly outstanding work with Pacific Standard Time, the university's award-winning vocal jazz ensemble. You'll have the opportunity to watch Christine in action - teaching concepts, demonstrating jazz-appropriate choral methods and working with vocal jazz ensemble in rehearsal. Additional teachers in the series also contribute expert specialty skills on topics such as working with sound system and rhythm section.

What You'll Learn

Jazz Choir Essentials provides the information and methodology you need to direct a jazz choir with confidence. New classes are scheduled to be added to the series over time on topics that address these important questions:

  • VOCAL TONE: How does the approach to vocal tone and placement differ between jazz and traditional choir?
  • RHYTHMIC STYLES: What is swing feel and how do I approach it with my group? (Bossa nova style? Jazz ballad?)
  • LITERATURE: Where can I find quality literature that's the right level for my group?
  • MICROPHONE TECHNIQUE: How should I mentor the singers in regard to mic technique? What kind of sound system is required, if any?
  • DISSONANCE: What is the best strategy for handling the chord voicing dissonances that are so prevalent in jazz choir literature?
  • PLANNING THE SCHOOL YEAR: How should I approach planning my year, including concerts, festivals and/or tours?
  • REHEARSAL TECHNIQUES: What are the most useful rehearsal techniques for jazz choir, and how do I implement them?
  • JAZZ CONCEPTS: How can I gain a basic understanding of chord types and symbols, grooves, jazz terminology, and rhythmic styles?
  • AND MORE...

Applying the Concepts


In addition to teaching concepts and methods, Jazz Choir Essentials is designed to support you in putting concepts and methods into action with your choir! For this reason, most classes include materials you can bring in to rehearsals to work toward specific pedagogical goals:

  • Groove & Harmonic Exercises
  • Guided Listening
  • Scat Singing Activities
  • Choral Warmups for Jazz

Please also see the Jazz Choir Essentials companion class ,Jazz Choir Summer Prep. This shorter, single class will help you to get fully prepared for the start of the school year.


If you're a music educator who is new to vocal jazz and want to give it a try, or an active jazz choir director who would like to gain a deeper understanding of the genre, this class is for you!



Your Instructor


Christine Guter
Christine Guter

Christine Helferich Guter is the Director of Vocal Jazz at California State University Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music. She teaches private jazz voice lessons, solo jazz performance class, and has taught class jazz piano and jazz theory. She also directs the university’s award-winning vocal jazz ensemble, Pacific Standard Time.

Christine’s ensembles have been honored with DownBeat Magazine Student Music Awards for the past eleven years in a row. They have performed numerous times at the most prestigious state, national, and international music conferences and festivals (JEN, IAJE, ACDA). They have also performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival on the stage of the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Jazz Festival, the Newport Beach Jazz Party, and the West Coast Jazz Party. Pacific Standard Time has competed at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival and taken first place in the Collegiate Vocal Jazz Ensemble division multiple times.

An extraordinary educator, Christine is active internationally as a lecturer, adjudicator, and clinician, and has conducted numerous All-State Jazz and Honor Jazz Choirs. Her honor groups have also been awarded with multiple DownBeat Student Music Awards. She has served on the board of ACDA Western Division and the California Choral Directors Association as Vocal Jazz Representative and is also proud to be on the board for the non-profit organization “Jazz Education Abroad.” Through this organization, she works as the jazz voice instructor for the Thailand Jazz Workshop and has taught at the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory in Nepal. In 2018, Christine received the prestigious “Jazz Education Achievement Award” from DownBeat Magazine.

Christine also works extensively as a professional vocalist and studio singer. She performs frequently in LA and Orange County and has had the opportunity to perform with many legendary musicians including Joe Williams, Bobby McFerrin, Rosemary Clooney, Diane Schuur, Maynard Ferguson, and Lionel Hampton. As a studio singer, Christine has appeared on dozens of Hollywood soundtracks (Disney’s Mulan, Star Wars Rogue One, Sing!, Ready Player One, Star Trek Beyond, The Jungle Book, Jurassic World, Despicable Me 2, Spiderman 3) and has sung on several national commercial jingles (T-Mobile, Walmart, Microsoft). Christine is also the featured singer in Roger Treece’s educational books “Circle Songs” and “Musical Fluency.”


"Christine understands, to her core, what makes vocal jazz ensemble music exciting to both the listeners and to the vocal musicians delivering the music. Her groups, year after year, have always achieved the highest standards of excellence..."

- Kerry Marsh, Arranger

"There are people who know vocal jazz, and others who understand the choral idiom, but no one weaves the two together with as much passion, insight and artistry as Christine Guter."

- Deke Sharon, Founder - The Contemporary A Cappella Society (CASA)

"Christine has maintained one of the highest standards of excellence in the Vocal Jazz Ensemble world for college students. I have recommended her program to any budding vocalist interested in this genre."

- Kim Nazarian, Vocalist - New York Voices

"Christine Guter is easily one of the best Vocal Jazz pedagogues in the world, and I believe her expertise flows fundamentally from her musicianship."

- Roger Treece, Composer/Arranger

Frequently Asked Questions

When Does the Class Start and Finish?
Your class will start and end on the dates you choose. Unless otherwise noted on the Class Homepage, you can take it at your own pace!

How Long Do I Have To Access the Class?
For as long as the MusicHabit school is up and running you have access to the class! It’s always available for you.

What if the Course Isn't Right For Me?
If you decide the course isn't right for you for any reason we offer a full money back guarantee within the first 30 days.

How Can I Get an Online Lesson with Christine or Another Teacher?
It may or not be possible depending on availability, but start by contacting Michele.

Can I Give You Feedback Or A Suggestion?
Yes, yes, and yes - we would love to hear from you, thank you. Contact us.

Where Can I Go for Help if I Need it?
Ask a question in the MusicHabit Network Facebook Group for support or contact us directly.

This course is closed for enrollment.