Jazz Studies

The B.M., Performance Concentration, Jazz Studies Option 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 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.

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. Auditions for the jazz ensembles are open to all CSU students. Ensemble audition excerpts and instructions are available at music.colostate.edu/auditions.

Degree Program

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.
  • The Jazz Studies degree is currently available to students who play the following instruments only: trumpet, trombone, saxophone, piano, percussion, and double bass.

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


Peter Sommer

Associate Professor of Music; Saxophone, Chamber Music, Jazz Studies; Coordinator of Woodwinds


(970) 491-3010

Shilo Stroman

Instructor of Music; Percussion, Jazz Studies, Marching Band (Drumline)


(970) 491-4054

Jazz Studies Events

Jazz Studies News

American jazz musician and composer Miles Davis (1926 - 1991) playing the trumpet.

CSU Jazz Ensembles Present the Music of Miles Davis


The Birth of the Cool Hits the CSU Stage The CSU Jazz Ensembles kick off the fall jazz season at the University Center for the Arts on Wednesday, October 1 at 7:30 p.m. with a concert entitled ‘The Music of Miles Davis’ in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts, located […]

Ingrid Jensen Promotional Photo

Jazz Ensembles Concert


  CSU brings back that big band sound! Join the Colorado State University Jazz Ensembles on Wednesday, February 26 at 7:30 p.m. for an evening of modern, big band music. The performance will be held in the Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.  Tickets are $7 […]

Brass Section Pictured

CSU Music Educators National Conference Student Organization wins national award


The Department of Music, Theatre and Dance announces that Colorado State University’s Collegiate Music Educators National Conference (MENC) Student Organization has received the National 2011 Chapter of Excellence Award for Recruitment given by the MENC National Association for Music Education. The CSU Collegiate MENC Chapter held a Swing Dance Social in November 2010 featuring the […]

Guest Artists


Dave Devine promotional photo

Dave Devine

Denver guitarist, Brian Blade Fellowship; visit Dave Devin's website.

Ron Stout promotional photo

Ron Stout

Los Angeles Jazz Trumpet legend, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB; visit Ron Stout's website.

Paul Romaine promotional photo

Paul Romaine

Denver drummer, founder of the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts, instructor at University of Colorado; visit Paul Romaine's website.

John Fedchock promotional photo

John Fedchock

NYC trombonist, leader of the John Fedchock Big Band; visit John Fedchock Big Band's website.

Eric Gunnison promotional photo

Eric Gunnison

Kent McLagan promotional photo

Kent McLagan

Marc Dalio promotional photo

Marc Dalio

Drummer and photographer; visit Marc Dalio's website.