Jazz Studies

Overview

The Bachelor of Music, Performance Concentration, Jazz Studies Option is a professional degree program that offers instrumental students a balanced course of study in both performance and academic classes to help them develop their skills as jazz artists and educators. Students in the degree program have the opportunity to study jazz history, theory, improvisation, pedagogy and composition and arranging, in addition to taking private lessons with both traditional applied faculty and jazz specialists.

The degree is intended to give the student the necessary skills to pursue a career in performing jazz and other popular styles while also learning the core performance skills and musicological knowledge of a traditional Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. The degree is designed to prepare students to perform jazz at a high level in public performance and/or continue graduate work in jazz and other genres.

Ensembles in the Jazz Studies area consist of two large jazz ensembles and two smaller jazz combos. Both the ensembles and combos expose students to classic and contemporary jazz literature and styles with an emphasis on quality performance and education.

  • Jazz Studies is currently available to students who play the following instruments only: trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, percussion, and double bass.
  • Auditions for the jazz ensembles are open to all CSU students. Ensemble audition excerpts and instructions are available at music.colostate.edu/auditions.

Program-level Learning Objectives

  • Ability to perform music from a variety of historical/ style periods and exhibit the appropriate skills for musical self-expression in juried performances. These skills include technique, musicianship, tone, diction/articulation, style, interpretation, sight-reading, rhythm, improvisation, and artistry.
  • Keyboard skills.
  • The capacity to create original or derivative music in the jazz idiom as an improviser and composer/arranger
  • Understanding of the common elements and organizational patterns of music, including musical forms, processes, and structures.
  • Knowledge of music history and repertory, including representative composers and works according to the area of specialization, as well as study and experiences with music in addition to that of the primary culture encompassing the area of specialization.
  • Students are also expected to learn music literature from all periods through aural and score analysis. Performance skills are tested at the end of the sophomore year and in a graduation recital if required by the degree option. Some programs require satisfactory completion of supervised student teaching, an internship, or a senior project.

Jazz Studies students are highly encouraged to develop their talents in the context of a wide musical world while still learning the classic music of the jazz masters.

  • The select nature of the CSU Jazz Program gives students the opportunity for more individual attention and time with their faculty mentors.
  • Students develop skills that can be immediately applied to a range of career performance opportunities, both on and off campus.
  • Students get to learn from and perform with a wide range of regular guest artists and clinicians. Past guests include John Fedchock, John Riley, Dave Pietro, Paul McKee, Walt Weiskopf, Scott Wendholt, Rich Perry, Greg Gisbert, Zach Brock, Erik Deutsch, Art Lande, Nguyen Le, Ron Miles, Michael Weiss, and many more.
  • Repertoire for our two big bands and multiple small combos includes classic literature and modern music, and students are pushed to write and arrange their own music to share with their peers and the public in our regular concerts each semester.

Audition Requirements

In addition to the performance degree audition requirements listed on the individual instrument web pages, students must also audition for the jazz area.

  • Prepare two jazz standards and/or classics of your choice, including melody and improvisation (accompaniment will be provided, or the auditioning student can provide an audio track)
    • Pianists should also be prepared to play accompaniment (comp) on the chord progression
    • Bassists should also be prepared to play a bass line in the appropriate style on the chord progression
    • Drummers should prepare multiple jazz styles including swing, bossa nova, samba, ballad, funk and rock, as well as ¾ time. Drummers should also be prepared to demonstrate knowledge of blues and AABA form.
  • Sight reading will also be included in all auditions

Study With

Wil Swindler

  • Instructor of Music
  • Coordinator of Jazz Studies
  • Director of Jazz Bands

Wil.Swindler@colostate.edu

Peter Sommer

  • Professor of Music
  • Saxophone, Chamber Music, Jazz Studies
  • Coordinator of Woodwinds

Peter.Sommer@colostate.edu

Shilo Stroman

  • Senior Instructor
  • Percussion, Jazz Studies, Marching Band (Drumline)

Shilo.Stroman@colostate.edu

Jazz Studies Events

Jazz Ensembles: The State of the Big Band

March 2, 2023 at 7:30 PM
The State of the Big Band CSU Jazz Ensembles I and II, under the direction of Wil Swindler and Shilo Stroman, perform music spanning the entire history of the big band as a vehicle for Jazz. This concert will include some early swing as well as 21st century works displaying the gamut of stylistic periods [...]

Virtuoso Series Concert: Peter Sommer, Saxophone & Guest, Ben Markley, Piano

April 10, 2023 at 7:30 PM
The Great American Songbook CSU Saxophone Professor Peter Sommer and University of Wyoming Director of Jazz Studies Ben Markley present a program of standards from the Great American Songbook, including music by Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and many more! An evening of duo jazz, featuring saxophone and piano in an intimate setting, highlighting [...]

Jazz Combos Concert

April 13, 2023 at 7:30 PM
CSU Jazz Combos 1,2, and 3 present an evening of small-group jazz. Directed by Dr. Seth Lewis, Tom Amend, and Sean Sullivan, the combos will present a program of jazz standards, great hidden gems, and original music by combo members.

Jazz Studies News

marching band

New rehearsal schedule for Marching Band, Symphonic Band, and Jazz II

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The CSU Marching Band will move to a new rehearsal schedule starting Fall 2021. The marching band class will now meet four days a week for a shorter rehearsal time on T/W/TH/F from 4:30-6 p.m. each day. Jazz II (Fall and Spring) M/W, 12-1:30 p.m., Instrumental Rehearsal Hall Symphonic Band (Fall) T/TH, 2:35-4:05 p.m. Symphonic […]

The Rocky Mountain Saxophone Summit Story

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By Viola Cai, Publicity Intern “It is almost like a saxophone party!” The Rocky Mountain Saxophone Summit at the University Center for the Arts invites saxophonists of all ages and levels to join their party. There will be masterclasses during daytime and a capstone recital in the evening. Tim Glesmann from Sax Alley will be […]

Terell Stafford promotional photo

CSU Jazz Ensembles Collaborate with Guest Artist Terell Stafford, Trumpet

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By Emily Kaiser, SMTD Publicity Intern Dr. Peter Sommer, and the Colorado State University Jazz Ensembles I and II are gearing up for an exciting experience to collaborate with guest artist, Terell Stafford, the renowned trumpet player from the East Coast region. The student ensemble members will have the opportunity to learn from the artist, […]

Guest Artists

Guest Artists and Poster Gallery