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COVID-19 UPDATES: Spring Semester Information

Jazz Ensemble Audition Info

Fall 2021 Audition Dates

  • T 8/17 until your audition
    • A URL will be announced to which all students interested in being in a JO and/or SJE will upload their completed schedule grids. The deadline for completion is your jazz ensemble audition (see below).
    • Visit the announced SignUpGenius URL to sign up for your in-person audition.
  • T 8/24—VCU classes begin.
    • 12:30-5:30p, MC 2014-VCU Jazz Horn (especially Saxes!) auditions for large and small jazz ensembles.
    • (No JO II rehearsal today.)
  • W 8/25
    • 9:30-10:40a, 12:20-2p, MC 2014-Jazz Horn auditions. (No saxes in the morning.)
    • 2:10-5p, MC 2014-Jazz Guitar/Piano auditions.
    • (No JO I rehearsal today.)
  • TH 8/26
    • 10:30-11:30a, MC 2014-Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions.
    • 12:30-4p, MC 2014-Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions.
    • 4-5pm, MC 1003—Deliberations
    • (No JO I rehearsal today.)
  • SUN 8/29 or sooner—E-mailing of ensemble rosters to all auditionees. (A copy will likely be posted by that time on the Jazz Board outside MC 2014.) All ensemble members must then register for the correct ensemble, and auditionees not placed in an ensemble they may have registered for must then drop the course so as to avoid receiving a failing grade at the end of the semester.
  • MON 8/30,
    • 3:40-5:30pm, MC 1003–First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra I.
    • Last day for students to add/drop a course.
  • M 8/30–F 9/3—First rehearsals of SJEs (as individually scheduled).
  • T 8/31, 4:40-6:20pm, MC 1003—First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra II.

Audition Information and Requirements

All interested students are required to read the applicable portions of the VCU Jazz Studies Handbook regarding audition scheduling and policies.

The jazz ensembles audition requires that you:

  • Through an online system, you provide your interest in various ensembles, your schedule of conflicts regarding ensembles, and your related contact information. Complete it prior to your audition! Visit this registration page (optimized for Firefox) as soon Tuesday, August 17 until just prior to your audition to enter your information. You may only do so once. Information entered prior to that date may be erased. For instructions, see the Student Schedule Instructions.
  • Sign up for an appropriate audition slot using SignUpGenius.
  • Observe any health protocols stated by the Department of Music. At this writing (subject to change):
    • All ensembles will meet in person in typical rehearsal locales.
    • No social distancing will be in place.
    • Masks and bell covers will be required only for students on a vaccination waiver (woodwinds using only bell covers, not bags), effective at ensemble auditions. Be sure to contact your potential ensemble director(s) with sufficient advance notice if you need them to provide the cover.
    • Rehearsals will be for the full times scheduled.
    • We plan to present public concerts, same as pre-COVID. We may also offer livestreams, perhaps for paid admission.
    • Music majors requiring an ensemble for progress towards graduation who for medical reasons may not rehearse on campus must e-mail such documentation as soon as possible to Sara Jones (advisor), Terry Austin (Chair), and their potential ensemble director(s) for consideration, as no remote “Zoom ensembles” currently exist.

Below describes typical audition expectations.

  • Horns: Unaccompanied performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique.
  • Piano: Performance of a melody and accompaniment and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, as well as comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa and samba.
  • Guitar and bass: Performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, and comping of a variety of styles on request, especially swing, bossa and samba.
  • Drums: Unaccompanied performance of a variety of styles on request, including swing, ballad, waltz, bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban, plus possibly trading fours. Drummers are required to bring their own cymbals, hi-hat clutch, sticks and brushes.
  • Percussion: Unaccompanied performance of styles including bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban. Congas, bongos and some hand percussion are available at the audition.
  • All: Sight-reading as provided by the jurors.’
  • Sample tunes might include:
    • Swing: “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Now’s the Time,” “Take the ‘A’ Train” and “Stella by Starlight”
    • Bossa: “Blue Bossa,” “Recorda-Me,” “Meditation,” Wave” and “Black Orpheus”
    • Samba: Samba versions of the bossas above are acceptable.
    • Afro-Cuban: “Mambo Inn” (2-3 clave), “Afro-Blue” (12/8), “Frenesí” (cha-cha), “Como Fue” (cha-cha) and “A Night in Tunisia” (possible in a variety of settings)
    • Ballad: “In a Sentimental Mood,” “Body and Soul,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” and “Misty”
    • Waltz: “Up Jumped Spring,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “All Blues” and “Bluesette”

You are not limited to the above choices; these are merely examples. Please note that improvisation is not a requirement to join this ensemble; however, we are delighted to hear all levels of improv within your audition.

Required Rhythmic Reading

All students auditioning for jazz ensembles must download the following jazz rhythm documents: Audition Rhythms sheet and practice with swing and even eighths to prepare for your audition. Bring this sheet with you to your audition as you may be asked to start and stop at any measure.You are also expected to review the examples below. Since swing phrasing typically presents a greater challenge than even-eighths, this page is marked to reveal how and why medium-swing phrases are articulated. Practice reading either of these two sheets while listening to the sound-file to check your playing for errors.

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