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Jazz Studies Auditions

Students auditioning for the jazz M.A. are required to complete a formal audition, which all prospective domestic students should plan to complete in person. Video auditions are acceptable from candidates living abroad, but only under extenuating circumstances (and with jazz faculty approval) for prospective students residing within the United States. For general information and to register for auditions during our annual audition day, please see Graduate Auditions. If unable to make the trip to Iowa for the published audition date, contact the jazz area head to schedule an alternate date and time. Students must apply to the University of Iowa graduate college before scheduling an audition can take place.

For full admission and financial aid consideration, graduate auditions should be completed by February 15 at the very latest. Graduate jazz auditions (for all except drum set) will consist of the following:

  1. Performance of a prepared jazz etude, transcription or substantial big band chart part (not preferred, but accepted) that is a minimum of 50 measures in length. The prepared piece may be in a style of the student’s choosing. If a transcription is chosen for this portion of the audition, the student will be required to perform the transcription along with the original recording. Please plan accordingly.
  2. Perform the full melody and improvise over several choruses of three jazz standards of contrasting styles and tempi. The songs selected should be of medium difficulty and above, and no more than one of these standards may be a 12 or 16 bar blues. This portion of the audition should be prepared with the use of a backing track (Aebersold play-along, Band in a box, IRealB, etc). The use of sheet music for this portion of the audition is not encouraged, but permitted (if absolutely necessary). For a list of suggested standards appropriate for a graduate audition, please click here (add hyperlink to sample UG/Grad jazz standards list).
  3. Sight-read an excerpt written in either swing, bossa nova, funk or other Latin-based styles.
  4. Supplementary Materials Submission: While not a firm requirement, you may choose to assemble and submit a short portfolio of 2-3 items that are represent the breadth of your undergraduate work. This may include past transcriptions completed, original compositions/arrangements for large or small ensembles, a jazz-based research paper or professional recording project. Submission of supplementary materials is not required, but strongly encouraged.

Jazz drum set auditions will differ significantly from what is listed above. Please contact professor James Dreier for specific audition details.