BA – Jazz Studies

Overview

UConn's bachelor of arts degree in music with an emphasis in jazz studies offers a balance of instruction between jazz and traditional styles so as to equip students for successful musical careers in a world that increasingly demands flexibility and versatility.

UConn's rigorous, performance-oriented program encourages students to study the music of past generations while consciously striving to create music which is relevant to today. Course work includes beginning-to-advanced instruction in improvisation, jazz arranging and composition, jazz history, and participation in a variety of ensembles that perform extensively on and off campus.

Jazz groups at UConn have placed first in competitions at the Villanova and Elmhurst jazz competitions, performed at major jazz festivals and educational conferences, and have garnered favorable reviews for their CD, UConn Jazz.

UConn is committed to hiring accomplished faculty members who are identified as major creative forces on the international music scene. Because the program is small and selective, faculty members know students personally and show a genuine interest and concern for their musical development.

Renowned guest jazz artists appear at UConn annually, offering clinics and performing with the UConn Jazz Ensemble, student combos, jazz faculty ensembles, and as performers at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. These artists include trumpeters Michael Phillip Mossman, Marvin Stamm, Tom Harrell, Joe Magnarelli and Randy Brecker, saxophonists Michael Brecker, Ralph Bowen, Tim Ries, Dick Oatts, Jerry Bergonzi and James Moody, trombonists Steve Davis, John Mosca and John Fedchock, pianists Cedar Walton and Herbie Hancock, bassists Dave Santoro, Dwayne Burno and Peter Washington, and drummers Tom Melito, Jim Oblon and Lewis Nash.

Jazz Studies Declaration

After four semesters of traditional applied training, a sophomore jury will determine acceptance into the jazz emphasis program. If the student does not pass the jury on the first attempt, the student may retake the jury the following semester. The student may not take the jury more than twice.

Components of the Jazz Jury
  • From the list below of 12 jazz standards, two will be performed: one selected by the faculty, and one selected by the student. These pieces must be memorized. Performances will include the melody as well as several choruses of improvisation on the song’s form.
  • Transcription: prepare a short transcription of a solo played on your instrument. A selection at a medium-tempo is recommended to best demonstrate sound, articulation, time feel and stylistic concepts. The transcription may be performed unaccompanied or along with the original recording.
  • Sight reading
  • Scales: Demonstrate fluency with all scales and technical requirements listed.
  • Drummers must
    • prepare all scales and song melodies on mallet instruments
    • include trading 4’s and/or 8’s in their performance of the memorized standards
  • Bassists must demonstrate the ability to improvise appropriate bass lines on each piece.
  • Pianists must demonstrate “comping” on all jazz pieces.
Standards for the Jazz Jury
  • All The Things You Are
  • Alone Together
  • Anthropology
  • Billie’s Bounce
  • Body & Soul
  • Maiden Voyage
  • Out of Nowhere
  • Recordame
  • Solar
  • Someday My Prince Will Come
  • Stella By Starlight
  • What Is This Thing Called Love?
Scales (prepared in all 12 keys)
  • major and all major modes
  • minor (harmonic, melodic and “jazz melodic minor” forms)
  • modes of harmonic minor and “jazz melodic minor”
  • major and minor pentatonics
  • diminished (1/2, w & w, 1/2)
  • whole tone
  • augmented
  • bebop scale (mixolydian with passing tone)
  • blues

Applied Lessons

Applied Music, listed in the university catalog as MUSI 1222 and MUSI 3222, consists of private study of an instrument or voice with a member of the Department of Music faculty. The student's major determines the number of credits of Applied Music taken each semester. Some undergraduate degrees require the student to progress to upper division performance status. Admission to upper division performance status is achieved by passing a promotional jury, typically taken at the end of the sophomore year.

As with all lessons, the main emphasis is on performing. Lessons will address technical and musical skills in order to improve the student's performance ability and understanding. Musical analysis, history, and other musical skills learned in the course of the student's academic career may be applied during Applied Music, thereby elevating the student's musical awareness.

Students pursuing the BA in Jazz Studies are required to take eight semesters of MUSI 1222 for two credits each. MUSI 3222 is optional. Two semesters of applied lessons in jazz are counted against the eight semesters.