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Jazz Studies Auditions

Students auditioning for the jazz M.A., B.M., B.A., or minor 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 Undergraduate 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 and the School of Music before scheduling an audition can take place.

Two years of applied classical music study on the student’s instrument of focus (via lower-level applied lessons) is a required component of the jazz B.M. degree. As a result, prospective jazz students should plan to sign up for an audition time/make an appointment to audition for both the classical studio faculty and the jazz studies area during their audition visit. Saxophone is the one instrument of study where a single audition for the jazz area ONLY is required. For all other instruments, please be sure to plan to meet with both jazz and classical faculty.

Audition Requirements

Jazz area auditions (for all except drums) will consist of the following*:

  1. Performance of a prepared jazz etude, transcription or substantial big band chart (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.
  2. Prepare to perform the full melody and improvise over several choruses of two jazz standards of contrasting styles. No more than one of these two 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). Memorization of these pieces are not a hard requirement, but highly encouraged. For a list of suggested standards appropriate for an undergraduate audition, please click here (add hyperlink to suggested jazz audition rep list).
  3. Sight read a short excerpt written in either swing, bossa nova or funk styles.
  4. Performance of major and natural minor scales (2 octaves, whenever possible) in all 12 keys in 8th notes at a tempo of 120 bpm.

*Remember that you will need to contact the applied classical faculty for your instrument of specialty to inquire about their audition requirements as well.

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

Please note that we are unable to accept formal undergraduate jazz guitar majors at this time. If you are a guitarist and interested in attending U of I, please contact Damani Phillips for consultation on possible options.

Important Deadlines

The deadline for submission of formal application to the University of Iowa and the School of Music is December 1.

All auditions should be completed/submitted by February 15 (or by the last official SOM audition day) for full consideration. Please plan accordingly.