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Sun Feb 25 | 1-5pm

an afternoon with
Mads Tolling
a jazz & improvisation intensive

Spend the day exploring improvisation techniques with this Grammy-winning jazz superstar and Bay Area treasure!

Register Now!

Purchase your registration and we’ll send confirmations and more info.

About the Event

What’s My Jam: What special groove techniques can do for a string player.

There is a grand tradition of “classical” string instruments in the jazz world, from violinist Stéphane Grappelli in the Hot Club of France with Django Reinhardt, to bassist Ron Carter playing cello on recordings with Eric Dolphy, to Jean-Luc Ponty improvising with Frank Zappa.  Now’s your chance to learn the techniques of jazz string-playing with a modern master!

In this intensive 4-hour workshop, you’ll learn how to do the shuffle bow, chop, strumming and improvising. This way as a string player you can sound legit in a jazz jam session and fit right in. Mads will give you the tools, techniques and know-how to take your groove playing to the next level.

Tunes used to get there will be Watermelon Man and Mario Bros and others.

Mads and pianist John R Burr will play a performance at the end of the workshop, and students can jam too!

Date and Time

Sunday, Feb 25, 2024 | 1–5 pm Pacific


Drew School | 2901 California Street, San Francisco

Who should attend?

All string players will benefit from this exploration of technical and stylistic elements of jazz playing. We anticipate a really fun afternoon of music-making, culminating in a “jam session” that will inspire you. All levels are welcome!

How should I prepare?

No need for advance practice. Just bring your instrument and be prepared to have a great time!

Is there a cost?


No one is turned away for lack of funds. Contact to request a scholarship or fee reduction.

Register Now!

Purchase your registration and we’ll send confirmations and more info.


Event Price Cart

About the Mentor

MADS TOLLING is an internationally renowned violinist and composer originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, now living in San Francisco. As a former nine-year member of both bassist Stanley Clarke’s band and the celebrated Turtle Island Quartet, Mads won two Grammy Awards, and he was nominated for a third Grammy in 2015. He was the 2016 winner of the DownBeat Critics Poll Rising Star Violin Award. Mads has performed with Chick Corea, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Barron, Paquito D’Rivera, Leo Kottke and Sergio & Odair Assad. Mads is a current member of Bob Weir’s Wolf Bros & Wolf Pack Band.

After graduating Berklee College of Music in 2003, he was recommended by Jean-Luc Ponty to join Stanley Clarke’s band. He has since been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, and his recordings have received rave reviews in Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Strings Magazine and DownBeat Magazine. Mads has performed for Danish royalty – Prince Frederik & Princess Mary – at the celebration of The Danish Embassy’s 50-year Anniversary. Since 2021, Mads has been a member of Bob Weir & Wolf Bros project as part of the Wolf Pack with tours across the US, including at Red Rocks, The Greek Theatre and Radio City Music Hall. He is featured on Weir’s album Live in Colorado. Mads has written several arrangements of Grateful Dead tunes for the band, some of which are now also part of the Mads Men repertoire.

Mads has twice been commissioned to write violin concertos – for Oakland Symphony and Pacific Chamber Orchestra. He has performed his symphonic works and soloed with orchestras around the US and Japan.

Mads now leads his own groups – Mads Tolling Quartet and Mads Tolling & The Mads Men. His release, Playing the 60s, is a reimagination of classic songs from 1960s film, TV and radio, such as “A Taste of Honey,” “Hawaii 5-0” and “Mission: Impossible.” The album features vocalists Kenny Washington, Kalil Wilson and Spencer Day, and it spent two months on US jazz radio’s top 30.

With his groups, Mads has performed over a thousand concerts around the world, including at The Hollywood Bowl, Library of Congress and at the Bay Area’s Paramount and Herbst Theatres. As a featured Yamaha Artist, Mads leads clinics and masterclasses in the US and internationally.

Workshop Materials

More with Mads!

Mads Tolling and John R Burr perform John’s arrangement of the Beatles’ Blackbird.

Enjoy this highlight from Mads Tolling’s April 2020 online workshop!

Unlock the full video in AMN’s video gallery.

Check out The Ultimate Violin Course

This 100% online course will get violin instruction to students in a safe and fun way. Mads uses multiple camera angles and gives detailed instructions to guide students from being total beginners to advanced level. Every aspect of playing the violin is covered – including technique, learning how to read music and developing a good ear.

In contrast to more traditional methods, UVC dives deep into genres like pop, rock, jazz and folk music. The goal is to be able to play your favorite songs – regardless of genre. Therefore, improvisation and understanding of rhythm and harmony are key.

    Thank you

    to our partner Drew School for hosting this workshop.