Jazz Studies

Jazz Studies (BM)

The Jazz Studies Program, a bachelor of music (BM) curriculum developed by Tom Wolfe and directed by Chris Kozak, is a program dedicated to the detailed study of jazz performance and arranging/composition. This degree, established on the firm foundation of the arranging program developed by Professor Steve Sample, is on the cutting edge of the curricula needed by versatile musicians.BM in Jazz Studies Course Check List with Fill-In Fields
Jazz Studies Degree Total: 145 hours

Audition requirements for the BM in Jazz Studies

Note: It is expected that you contact the instructor of your Primary Instrument that you will be auditioning on for any additional requirements to what is listed here.  Their contact information can be found on the Faculty/Staff page of the School of Music website.

Live auditions are expected however; in extenuating circumstances a live-taped audition may be accepted.  Please contact Professor Chris Kozak, Director of Jazz Studies with any questions.

All students auditioning into the Jazz Studies program should be able to satisfy the following:

  • Two classical pieces of varying style (etudes can be used however it is recommended that you consult their viability by contacting the Professor of your Primary Instrument)
  • Two jazz tunes, i.e. a blues and a jazz standard – Standards can be chosen from http://jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm and can be found in the Jamey Aebersold catalog of Play-A-Longs or Real Book lead sheets.  The format to follow when performing these pieces is:
  • 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
  • Scales: Major & Minor – 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 arpeggiation of the asked scale 2 octaves.
  • You may also be asked to do pitch matching as well as note identification on the Piano

**Jazz accompaniment will be provided if the request is made at the time of application**

Instrument specific Details for Jazz Studies Auditions:

  • Brass
    • Follow the above instructions
  • Saxophone
  • Guitar
  • Piano
    • All of the above general information including:  Classical pieces should be discussed with the Piano Faculty.  Solo Jazz Pieces may be used for the Jazz requirement i.e. Body and Soul as a Ballad would be acceptable but preferably not a transcription.
  • Double Bass
    • Student MUST audition on 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.  Example Classical repertoire: Simandl Etudes, Eccles Sonata, George Vance Progressive Etudes.
  • Drum Set
    • Be able to play several different styles i.e. Bossa Nova, Samba, Afro-Cuban, Mambo, Calypso, Funk-Groove, Ballad (with and without brushes,) Swing (Slow, Medium, and Fast tempos with Sticks and Brushes.)
    • Demonstrate trading “4’s & 8’s” on a Blues i.e. Play 4 measures of time, 4 measures of solo, etc.
    • Exhibit proficiency in basic technique i.e. 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 preferably swing.
    • One prepared Snare Drum solo or excerpt from a standard method book.

Some General things to consider regarding the overall audition process:

  • Apply early!  The sooner you get that information in, the sooner you can start preparing!
  • Be sure you have completed the University of Alabama Application.  Acceptance to the University is required in order to attend the School of Music.  That info can be found here:
  • As this is a formal audition, we recommend you come with a comprehensive C.V. or Resume and dress appropriately.  Arrive at least 1 hour to your scheduled time to allow for sign-in and warm-up.  Auditions can tend to run over so your patience is appreciated.
  • Once the audition is complete this is time for Q&A about our program so come with questions.  Read up on our program and its course offerings. That info can be found here:
  • Letters of acceptance aren’t sent out until all auditions are complete.  This generally takes until the first week of March.
  • Sight-reading is a necessity and no professional musician would succeed if they did not show proficiency it this realm.  It is something I recommend students work on daily (a minimum of 20 minutes) to improve and further develop music reading skills.  The piece given will have a variety of rhythms in the Jazz idiom (think 8th note lines and arppegiations.)  The piece will also contain chord changes which you will be expected to comp and solo over.
  • Below is a copy of the info our Theory faculty provide to offer assistance for students preparing for the Theory placement exam taken when school begins.  This is different and separate from the one you will be asked to take at your audition.  The exam at the audition is a general diagnostic that give us a general idea of whether or not you are prepared to enter the School of Music as a freshman.

Preparing for Courses in Music Theory

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

  1. Using treble and bass clefs, be able to read and write notes on the staff.
  2. 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.
  3. Be able to quickly identify and write all major and minor (natural, harmonic and melodic) scales.
  4. Be able to write and identify major, minor, perfect, augmented, and diminished intervals. Know the inversion of any interval.
  5. Be able to write, clap, and count simple rhythm patterns.
  6. Be able to sing major scales using letter names or scale-degree numbers.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

We look forward to hearing your audition!