Jazz Studies Audition Requirements

All applicants will submit the following application materials based on their desired degree program. For area-specific audition requirements, please scroll down or use these buttons to navigate to the appropriate area.

Application Requirements for Undergraduate Applicants

  • Complete all required application questions
  • 2 letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement

Application Requirements for Master of music, doctor of arts, and graduate Performance Certificate Applicants

  • Complete all required application questions
  • 3-4 letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resumé

Certain areas ask for additional application materials.  Please read carefully!

Note: Accompanists are not required, but the applicant may provide one.


Bass

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

Jazz Bass

  • Play the melody (head), a stylistically appropriate bass line, and improvise a solo on:
    • A blues (medium or up-tempo swing)\
    • A standard tune (medium or up-tempo swing)
    • A tune in a contrasting style of your choice (i.e. ballad, Latin, funk/groove, etc.)
    • NOTE: Bring Recorded recorded backing tracks (on CD or device with miniplug output). Auditionees will either play to the track or with a live rhythm section (provided by UNC), at the discretion of the faculty. 
  • Aural Skills: Applicant's ability to match pitch vocally and to distinguish basic chord structure (i.e. major, minor, diminished and augmented triads, in all inversions) will be assessed. 
  • Sight reading may be included in the audition.
In Addition, videos of the following should be submitted as part of the application:
  • Perform a jazz etude such as those in “Jazz Conception” by Jim Snidero or “Jazz and Funk Etudes” by Bob Mintzer, or similar.
  • Major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales, 2 octaves (3 different keys of your choice)
  • Optional - Perform a “classical” etude or solo piece, demonstrating your proficiency with the bow

Electric Bass

  • Major, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales in 3 different keys of your choice.
  • Sight reading skills will be assessed.
  • Aural skills: Applicant's ability to match pitch vocally and to distinguish basic chord structures (i.e. major, minor, diminished and augmented triads, in all inversions) will be assessed.
  • *Please bring all required recordings of backing tracks with you. You may use a CD or a phone/tablet with a mini-plug output.
  • All students auditioning will also prepare one of the two options below:
    • For students intending to focus on classical music
      • Perform a “classical” solo piece, for example something from “J.S. Bach For Bass” (published by Mel Bay) or “Bach Cello Suites for Electric Bass” (published by Hal Leonard). Does not need to be memorized.
    • For students intending to focus on jazz music within the BA, BM-Business, BM- composition, or BME degree programs:
      • Perform a jazz etude, for example something from “Jazz Conception” by Jim Snidero or “Jazz and Funk Etudes” by Bob Mintzer. Does not need to be memorized. 
        • Play the melody (head), a walking bass line, and an improvised solo on a blues or a jazz standard tune (medium tempo swing). Play this with a recorded background track that you provide. Does not need to be memorized.

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Either an on-campus audition or an audition video recording is required (an on-campus audition is preferred and recommended, and is required for applicants for assistantships). 
  • Prepare five standard tunes (“Great American Songbook”) or jazz compositions (songs by jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, etc.) of contrasting tempos and styles.  Play the melody, appropriate bass lines/styles, and solo on each song requested.
  • In on-campus auditions, applicants will perform with a rhythm section provided by UNC Jazz Studies. Video auditions should be with a trio (piano or guitar, and drums).
  • On-campus auditions may include sight-reading.

Audition Requirements FOR Doctor of Arts

  • An on-campus audition is required for DA applicants.
  • Prepare five standard tunes (“Great American Songbook”) or jazz compositions (songs by jazz musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, etc.) of contrasting tempos and styles. In the audition you will demonstrate playing the melody, appropriate bass lines/styles, and soloing on each song requested.
  • In on-campus auditions, applicants will perform with a rhythm section provided by UNC Jazz Studies. 
  • Auditions may include sight-reading.

Contact:

Erik Applegate at Erik.Applegate@unco.edu


Guitar

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Graduate Performance certificate

  • Perform something in a jazz style, i.e. solo arrangement of a jazz tune or transcription
  • Play the melody and comp changes on:
    • A blues (medium swing ex. "Billie's Bounce")
    • A standard tune from the jazz repertoire (med-up tempo)
  • Perform selected major and minor scales in 3 octaves
  • Sight-reading
  • Note: No accompanist is needed. The student will be accompanied by UNC Jazz Studies Faculty. 

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC

  • Prescreen
    • Submit recordings of the applicant performing with a combo and a solo chord-melody piece
  • For MM applicants, either an on campus audition or an audition recording is required (an on campus audition is preferred and recommended).
  • All graduate student applicants will perform with a rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty. Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.
  • Recorded auditions: (If no on campus auditions can be arranged)
    • Three contrasting jazz pieces

Audition Requirements FOR Doctor of Arts

  • Prescreen
    • Recording of the applicant performing with a combo and a solo chord-melody piece.
  • All graduate student applicants will perform with a rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty. Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.

Additional Application Requirements for Doctor of Arts:

  • Upload or provide link(s) to a video of the applicant performing with a combo
  • Upload or provide link(s) to a video of the applicant performing a solo chord-melody

Contact:

Steven Kovalcheck at Steven.Kovalcheck@unco.edu


Percussion/Drumset

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Percussion students auditioning for the jazz studies program must perform the following at the scheduled audition:
    • A rudimental snare drum solo
    • A concert snare drum solo
    • A mallet piece (either two mallet or four)
    • A timpani piece (optional)
    • Sight-reading
  • Jazz Drum Set Requirements:
    • Demonstrate knowledge of various styles including the following:
      • Medium swing
      • Up-tempo swing
      • Jazz Ballad with brushes
      • Bossa Nova
      • Jazz samba
      • 16th note funk feel
      • 8th note rock feel
      • Jazz waltz
    • Demonstrate improvisational ability by playing a 12-bar blues in the following manner:
      • Interpret the melody of a blues head on the drum set (ex. “Au Privave,” “Billie’s Bounce,” “Straight, No Chaser,” etc).
      • Perform the head two times followed by a chorus of time, followed by 4 choruses of solo improvisation over the form.  Finally, play a statement of the melody one time to finish the piece.

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC

  • Prescreen
    • Submit a recording of the applicant performing with a combo and/or big band.
  • For MM applicants, either an on campus audition or an audition recording is required (an on campus audition is preferred and recommended).
  • All graduate student applicants will perform with a rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty. Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.
  • Recorded auditions: (If no on-campus auditions can be arranged)
    • Three contrasting jazz pieces

Additional Application Requirements for Master of Music:

  • Upload a video featuring the applicant performing with a combo or big band.

Audition Requirements for Doctor of Arts

  • Prescreen
    • Submit a recording of the applicant performing with a combo and/or big band.
  • All graduate student applicants will perform with a rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty. Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.

Additional Application Requirements for Doctor of Arts:

  • Upload or provide link(s) to a video of the applicant performing with a combo and/or big band

Contact:

Kelsey Shiba at Kelsey.Shiba@unco.edu


Piano

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Prepare three contrasting pieces from the standard jazz repertoire. Play the melody and improvise over the form. One of these pieces should be solo piano, the other one will be will with rhythm section.
  • Play a medium or up-tempo blues and improvise over the form
  • Demonstrate the ability to comp over changes from your chosen pieces.
  • Sight-reading

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC

  • For MM applicants, either an on campus audition or an audition recording is required (an on campus audition is preferred and recommended).
  • Prepare three contrasting pieces form the standard jazz repertoire.  Play the melody and improvise over the form.  One of these pieces should be solo piano, the other two will be will with rhythm section.
  • Demonstrate the ability to comp over changes from your chosen pieces
  • Sight Reading

Audition Requirements for Doctor of Arts

  • Prepare three contrasting pieces form the standard jazz repertoire.  Play the melody and improvise over the form.  One of these pieces should be solo piano, the other two will be will with rhythm section.
  • Demonstrate the ability to comp over changes from your chosen pieces
  • Sight-reading

Contact:

Dana Landry at Dana.Landry@unco.edu


Saxophone

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

  • Major scales
  • Applicants should be prepared to perform the head and improvise on three contrasting tunes.
  • Applicants should play one classical selection that demonstrates technical and musical proficiency and one jazz etude or transcription.
  • The applicant may play short excerpts on doubles if they wish.
  • Sight-reading
  • Applicants may show original jazz compositions.

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC, Doctor of Arts, and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Applicants should be prepared to perform the head and improvise on three contrasting tunes.
  • Applicants should play one jazz transcription.
  • The applicant may play short excerpts on doubles if they wish.
  • Applicants are encouraged to bring original jazz compositions.

Additional Application Requirements for Master of Music and Doctor of Arts:

  • Upload a sample of scholarly writing

Contact:

Andrew Dahlke at Andrew.Dahlke@unco.edu


Trombone

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

  • Perform something in a jazz style, i.e. jazz etude or transcription
  • Play the melody (head) and improvise one or two choruses with a live or recorded background on:
      • a blues (medium or up-tempo)
      • a standard tune
      • a tune in a contrasting style of your choice (ballad, Latin, funk/groove, etc.)
  • A short classical solo or etude of your choice that demonstrates your musical and technical abilities
  • Sight-reading

*Please provide backing tracks via your phone or tablet for the jazz selections you plan to use at your audition.

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Perform the melody and improvise from memory at least three contrasting jazz selections.
  • Perform a transcription or jazz etude that demonstrates your musical and technical abilities
  • Perform at least one short classical solo or etude that demonstrates your musical and technical abilities.
  • Sight-reading

*Please provide backing tracks via your phone or tablet for the jazz selections you plan to use at your audition.

AUDITION REQUIREMENTS FOR DOCTOR OF ARTS

  • Perform the melody and improvise from memory at least three contrasting jazz selections
  • Perform a transcription or jazz etude that demonstrates your musical and technical abilities
  • Perform at least one short classical solo or etude that demonstrates your musical and technical abilities
  • Sight-reading
  • Please provide backing tracks via your phone or tablet for the jazz selections you plan to use at your audition

*Please provide backing tracks via your phone or tablet for the jazz selections you plan to use at your audition.

Contact:

Nat Wickham at Nat.Wickham@unco.edu


Trumpet

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees

  • Prepare two contrasting pieces form the standard jazz repertoire.  Play the melody and improvise over the form
  • Play a medium or up-tempo blues and improvise over the form
  • Prepare a transcription or etude that demonstrates the applicant’s musical capabilities
  • Sight-reading

Audition Requirements FOR MASTER OF MUSIC

  • Prepare three contrasting pieces form the standard jazz repertoire.  Play the melody and improvise over the form
  • Prepare a transcription or etude that demonstrates the applicant’s musical capabilities
  • Sight-reading 

Audition Requirements for Doctor of Arts, and Graduate Performance Certificate

  • Prepare three contrasting pieces form the standard jazz repertoire.  Play the melody and improvise over the form
  • Prepare a transcription or etude that demonstrates the applicant’s musical capabilities
  • Sight-reading

Contact:

Kelsey Shiba at Kelsey.Shiba@unco.edu


Vocal Jazz

Audition Requirements for Undergraduate JAzz Voice - Performance and Music Education

  • Perform a solo “transcription” by singing along with a recording of an originally improvised solo by a jazz vocalist or instrumentalist. Bring the original recording on a CD or digital device to use as your accompaniment. Match the melodic, rhythmic and stylistic content of the solo as much as possible. Examples of acceptable artists for the source for your transcription: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks, Dianne Reeves, Nancy King, Kurt Elling, Bobby McFerrin, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Charlie Parker, Hank Mobley, JJ Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Clifford Brown, Stan Getz.
  • Perform two jazz songs. One selection should be performed in a swing style and should include one chorus of improvised scat singing. A second selection should be in a ballad style/tempo, singing through the full form once, then returning to the half-way point of the form and singing to the end in a more embellished manner, improvising on the original melody. Please bring a lead sheet or backing track (using a CD or digital device) in your preferred key for each selection.
  • You will be played a series of 4-note and 5-note patterns on the piano and asked to reproduce each pattern using the neutral syllable of your choice (lah, dah, or doo).
  • You will be given an exercise in which you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to sing intervals on command.
  • You will be asked to sight-sing two or three brief exercises.
  • You will be led through a series of vocal exercises to demonstrate your range, tone quality, control and flexibility.
  • Note: Accompanist is provided by the school

AUDITION REQUIREMENTS For Undergraduate Jazz Voice - Music Business

  • Perform two jazz songs. One selection should be performed in a swing style and should include one chorus of improvised scat singing. A second selection should be in a ballad style/tempo, singing through the full form once, then returning to the half-way point of the form and singing to the end in a more embellished manner, improvising on the original melody. Please bring a lead sheet or backing track (using a CD or digital device) in your preferred key for each selection.
  • You will be played a series of 4-note and 5-note patterns on the piano and asked to reproduce each pattern using the neutral syllable of your choice (lah, dah, or doo).
  • You will be given an exercise in which you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to sing intervals on command.
  • You will be asked to sight-sing two or three brief exercises.
  • You will be led through a series of vocal exercises to demonstrate your range, tone quality, control and flexibility.
  • Note: Accompanist is provided by the school

Audition Requirements for MASTER OF MUSIC and Doctor of ARts

  • Perform a solo “transcription” by singing along with a recording of an originally improvised solo by a jazz vocalist or instrumentalist. Bring the original recording on a CD or digital device to use as your accompaniment. Match the melodic, rhythmic and stylistic content of the solo as much as possible.
  • Perform three jazz songs. One selection should be performed in a swing style and should include two choruses of improvised scat singing. A second selection should be in a ballad style/tempo, singing through the full form once, then returning to the half-way point of the form and singing to the end in a more embellished manner, improvising on the original melody. A third selection should be in a style/tempo that contrasts with the first two selections, and may optionally be in a bossa-nova, samba, funk, pop or R&B style. You may wish to use your third selection to highlight any particular stylistic vocal skills that you feel allow to you stand. 
  • You will be played a series of 4-note and 5-note patterns on the piano and asked to reproduce each pattern using the neutral syllable of your choice (lah, dah, or doo).
  • You will be given an exercise in which you will be asked to demonstrate your ability to sing intervals on command.
  • You will be asked to sight-sing two or three brief exercises.
  • You will be led through a series of vocal exercises to demonstrate your range, tone quality, control and flexibility.
  • Although jazz piano skills are not required for acceptance, you will be given the opportunity to demonstrate your functional jazz keyboard skills in whatever manner in which you are comfortable. You may choose to play the form of a standard with left hand roots and right hand close position voicings, or you may demonstrate two-hand voicings, or both. Again, you may choose not to complete this portion of the audition, but it it recommended for consideration for teaching assistantship assignments.
  • Note: Accompanist is provided by the school

Contact:

Kerry Marsh at Kerry.Marsh@unco.edu

Note: Accompanists ARE provided by the school for vocal jazz auditions.


Jazz Composition

Audition Requirements for MASTER OF MUSIC

  • Submit a portfolio consisting of a complete list of works (noting any performances or recordings), and scores and recordings of compositions and arrangement(s). MIDI recordings are acceptable, but live recording are preferable. Works should be for a minimum of six players (typically to include piano or guitar, bass, and drum set). Pieces represented only by lead sheet are not acceptable.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to interview in person, and are welcome to perform an audition on their instrument if they so choose.
  • Applicants to the MM program should send 3-5 pieces, including one arrangement of a standard tune and at least one work for big band (not exclusive). One piece may be representative of a non-jazz genre (chamber music, symphonic work, electronica, etc.). At least two of the works must be original compositions and not arrangements.
  • If the applicant also plays an instrument, they are welcome to schedule an audition with the jazz faculty. The requirements for the on campus audition are as follows:
    • All graduate student applicants will perform with rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty.
  • Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.

Contact:

Erik Applegate at Erik.Applegate@unco.edu OR David Caffey @ David.Caffey@unco.edu

Audition Requirements for Doctor of Arts

  • Submit a portfolio consisting of a complete list of works (noting any performances or recordings), and scores and recordings of compositions and arrangement(s). MIDI recordings are acceptable, but live recording are preferable. Works should be for a minimum of six players (typically to include piano or guitar, bass, and drum set). Pieces represented only by lead sheet are not acceptable.
    • Applicants are strongly encouraged to interview in person, and are welcome to perform an audition on their instrument if they so choose.
  • Applicants to the DA Program should send 5-7 pieces, including one arrangement of a standard tune and at least one work for big band (not exclusive). One piece may be representative of a non-jazz genre (chamber music, symphonic work, electronica, etc.). At least three of the works must be original compositions and not arrangements.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to interview in person, and are welcome to perform an audition on their instrument if they so choose. The requirements for the on campus audition are as follows:
    • All graduate student applicants will perform with rhythm section consisting of jazz faculty. Applicants should be prepared to perform three contrasting jazz pieces.
  • Applicants may be asked to sight-read.

Contact:

David Caffey at David.Caffey@unco.edu OR Erik Applegate at Erik.Applegate@unco.edu