Jazz Studies

Undergraduate Auditions

Preparing for Your Audition

Apply early! The sooner you submit your applications, the sooner you can start preparing for your audition.

Be sure you apply to The University of Alabama. Acceptance to the University is required in order to audition for and attend the School of Music. Application information can be found in the following locations:

  • School of Music undergraduate page
  • Undergraduate School of Music application and auditions
  • University of Alabama application

Since this is a formal audition, please bring a comprehensive C.V. or resume and dress appropriately. Arrive at least one hour prior to your appointment to allow time to sign-in and warm-up. Auditions sometimes run over the allotted time, so please be patient.

Once the audition is complete, you will have time to ask questions about our program, so please read up on our program and course offerings. You can find that information on the jazz studies website.

Letters of acceptance aren’t sent out until all auditions are complete. This generally takes until the first week of March.

Undergraduate Audition Requirements

All students auditioning for the jazz studies program should be able to satisfy the following:

  • Two classical pieces of varying styles (Etudes are acceptable, but we recommend consulting the professor of your primary instrument prior to using them.)
  • Two jazz tunes (i.e., a blues and a jazz standard). Standards can be chosen from http://jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm or found in the Jamey Aebersold catalog of play-a-longs or real book lead sheets. Use the following format when performing these pieces:
    • Play the melody (1 time through)
    • Improvise over the chord changes (minimum 2 choruses)
    • Comp (if applicable) by walking, playing the chord changes, and playing time (minimum 2 choruses)
  • Basic jazz improvisation. Be able to improvise over a set of chord changes from the above chosen pieces as well as comp if applicable
  • Sight-reading (will be provided)
  • Major and minor scales. You may also be asked for additional scales (i.e., modes of the major or minor). Scales should be a minimum of 2 octaves (ascending and descending to the 9th degree). You will also be asked to play the arrpegiation of the asked scale 2 octaves.
  • You may also be asked to do pitch matching as well as note identification on the Piano

Please note: Jazz accompaniment will be provided if the request is made at the time of application. You are expected to contact the instructor of the primary instrument you will be auditioning on for any additional requirements. Live auditions are expected; however, for extenuating circumstances a live-taped audition may be accepted.

Instrument Information

Brass

Follow the above instructions.

Saxophone

Follow the above instructions.

Guitar

Follow the general instructions above; then review the guitar audition requirements: https://music.ua.edu/wp-content/uploads/UA_Guitar_Program.pdf.  The recommended classical pieces for the guitar audition are Sor etudes or the Carcassi Melodious and Progressive Studies etudes.

Piano

Follow the general information above. Classical pieces should be discussed with the piano faculty. Solo jazz pieces may be used for the jazz requirement (Body and Soul would be an acceptable ballad but preferably not a transcription).

Double Bass

Student must audition on a double bass and exhibit skills using Arco technique (bow) on both of the classical selections.  You may also include an additional piece on Electric Bass in addition to the above general information. Sample classical repertoire: Simandl Etudes, Eccles Sonata, George Vance Progressive Etudes.

Drum Set

  • Be able to play several different styles: Bossa Nova, Samba, Afro-Cuban, Mambo, calypso, funk-groove, ballad (with and without brushes), and swing (slow, medium, and fast tempos with sticks and brushes.)
  • Demonstrate trading 4s & 8s on a blues (i.e., play 4 measures of time, 4 measures of solo, etc.)
  • Exhibit proficiency in basic technique such as proper stick technique and grip
  • Mallet keyboard technique is not required at the audition, but if you have some ability in that area, it is highly encouraged.
  • A play-along minus drum set in any of the above mentioned styles is recommended but in preferably swing.
  • One prepared snare drum solo or excerpt from a standard method book

Music Theory Placement Exam

Our theory faculty offer the information below to students preparing for the theory placement exam taken once school begins. This exam is different and separate from the one you will take at your audition. The exam administered at the audition is a general diagnostic that helps us know whether or not you are prepared to enter the School of Music as a freshman.

Preparing for Music Theory Courses

All freshman music majors are required to enroll for MUS 115: Theory I in their first semester. The theory instructors recommend that students acquire at least the basic musical skills listed below before entering MUS 115:

  • Using treble and bass clefs, be able to read and write notes on the staff.
  • Be able to quickly identify and write signatures for all major and minor keys. Know the relative and parallel minor of each major key; know the relative and parallel major of each minor key.
  • Be able to quickly identify and write all major and minor (natural, harmonic and melodic) scales.
  • Be able to write and identify major, minor, perfect, augmented, and diminished intervals. Know the inversion of any interval.
  • Be able to write, clap, and count simple rhythm patterns.
  • Be able to sing major scales using letter names or scale-degree numbers.
  • For students who have experience in sight singing and ear training, practice singing and dictating simple diatonic melodies. Practice singing major and minor scales in all keys.
  • Information regarding note reading, key signatures, scales, and intervals can be found in most theory texts. If you plan to study a theory text to acquire skills beyond those listed above, we recommend Harmony and Voice Leading, 2d ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1978) by Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter.

Sight-reading is a necessity, and no professional musician would succeed if they did not show proficiency it this realm. We recommend that students work on sight-reading daily (a minimum of 20 minutes) to improve and further develop their music reading skills. The piece given will have a variety of rhythms in the jazz idiom (think 8th note lines and arppegiations). It will also contain chord changes that you will be expected to comp and solo over.

If you have any questions about the above information or the auditioning process, please contact Chris Kozak, director of jazz studies, at ckozak@music.ua.edu or (205) 348-6333.

We look forward to hearing your audition!