Festival Check-In Information

The FESTIVAL HEADQUARTERS is located at the Box Office of The Samper Theater.

Directors should check in at the FESTIVAL HEADQUARTERS prior to going to a performance site. There, the director should pick up festival WRIST BANDS for performers, as well as updated schedules and be prepared to hand in the SOLOIST INFORMATION SHEET. All other forms and music scores are to be given to the guide at the performance site. In addition, the Headquarters desk will have maps and other information related to the festival, Cabrillo College and Santa Cruz County.

Directors should settle all outstanding fees at the Festival Headquarters desk prior to going to a performance site. Festival treasurer, will be available at the registration/information desk to answer any questions about application fees and buttons for participants. Directors should meet a student guide 30 minutes before warm up at the information table outside the assigned performance room. If a student guide has not checked in with the director by 15 minutes before warm up time, the director should immediately contact the Festival Headquarters.

Festival Paperwork and Recording Media

At the pre-warm up check-in, the student guide will ask the director for adjudication paperwork. This paperwork is required before a group can perform and includes the following:

1. Scholarship Identification Form/Stage Plot.

2. Conductor’s scores or lead sheets for each judge. Bands and vocal groups perform before three judges. Combos perform before two judges.

3. 3 SD (Secure Digital) cards for bands and choirs and 2 SD cards for combos (The cards are not provided by the festival. We will have some SD cards available for purchase.))

When a group has finished participating in the performance venue and clinic events, the festival staff needs a minimum of 30 minutes after the end of the sight reading/clinic to collect and compile all materials, print any performance certificates, and to record and post scores. When this procedure is complete, your score sheets and other materials will be available for pick-up at the registration/information desk. If a participating group qualifies for a Command Performance (more info below in FEATURED PERFORMERS AND CONCERTS section), the director will be responsible for resubmitting a Scholarship Identification Form/Stage Plot, as well as a signed acknowledgement of the festival’s command performance policies.


The Santa Cruz Jazz Festival provides back line equipment for performance and clinic venues but not for warm up rooms. Warm up rooms contain a piano or electronic keyboard only. To speed the change-over between performing groups, the festival requires participants to use the following equipment provided in performance and clinic venues:

The festival does not supply any additional equipment, such as auxiliary percussion. Performing groups must supply all equipment not listed above and transport it from the bus-loading zone in the parking lot on top of the Cabrillo College campus to all performance and clinic venues. All instruments, cases, and personal items are to be taken with you to each location during the sequence of events of your performance. (Warm-up, performance, sight reading/clinic).

Judging Policies

All judges’ comments and ratings are final. Adjudicators will not be allowed to change ratings once they have been submitted to festival staff after judged performances. The festival board of directors welcomes comment and criticism of adjudicators but will not ask a judge to revisit or otherwise reconsider a score. Directors who wish to comment on any judge’s performance may ask to speak with Festival Director, Mark Bidelman, or Board of Directors President, Steve Gray at the registration/information desk. Judges are directed not to use plus (+) or minus (–) modifiers to the ratings. In all cases the correct numeric score is the determining factor for the rating awarded by each judge. Any discrepancies will be settled by checking the math on the score sheet.

The Santa Cruz Jazz Festival conducts an evaluated sight-reading event immediately following a participating band’s performance. All groups of a given grade range will sight read the same chart, which has been chosen in advance by the festival’s board of directors. For high school bands, the chart is approximately grade 3½. For middle schools, the chart is approximately grade 2.

To be eligible for the Command Performance, bands must participate in the sight reading event. However, any director may choose not to participate in sight reading and instead trade the time allotted to sight reading for an extended performance clinic.

The following are guidelines specific to the sight reading event:

Adjudication criteria for sight reading will include consideration of the group’s age and experience. The score should be based not upon the quantity of right and wrong notes but primarily upon proper jazz phrasing and interpretation.

Command Performance Information

The Santa Cruz Jazz Festival provides backline equipment for groups participating in the Command Performance Concert. To speed the change-over between performing groups, the festival requires participants to use the following equipment provided on stage:

A complete drum kit with cymbals

The following are rules and guidelines for groups participating in the Command Performance:

Performance Rules for Command Performance Concert:

Groups participating in the Command Performance Concert will have 10 minutes for performance. The 10 minute performance begins when the group is announced and ends with the cutoff of the final tune. The festival needs to maintain a tight time schedule in order keep the entire concert to a reasonable length and we ask for the cooperation of the participating command performance groups. To assist groups in conforming to this time frame, the festival provides a lighted screen during the performance: green for the first nine minutes, yellow for the final minute and red after 10 minutes have elapsed. If the performance exceeds 10 minutes, the PA system and performance lights will be turned off. We hope this drastic measure will not be necessary.

The festival asks directors to inform students and parents that the concerts are open to the public and we expect behavior respectful to all performers and other people in the audience.


As part of its educational mission, the Santa Cruz Jazz Festival provides scholarships for individual private musical instruction. During performance events, judges recommend individual performers to the board of directors. After the conclusion of all regular performance events, the board of directors determines all awards from the pool of recommendations from judges. The festival board of directors reserves final judgment on the number and distribution of all scholarship awards. Several institutions with musical education programs also offer scholarships to Santa Cruz Jazz Festival participants. Read more  about the scholarships on the Scholarship page

Food and Merchandise

Information coming soon

Lost and Found

Festival staff will consolidate lost and found items at the Festival Headquarters. After the festival, lost and found inquiries may be made to  Director Steve Gray at 831-426-8449.