MSU Jazz Ensemble performing in 2013

Jazz Studies

2018-2019 Audition Dates

Applications must be completed no later than two weeks before a chosen audition date.

Friday, November 2, 2018:
2-5 p.m. (Incoming transfers, current Montclair State University students, and graduate applicants)
Friday, February 8, 2019:
2-5 p.m. (All applicants)
Saturday, February 9, 2019:
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (All applicants)
Friday, March 1, 2019:
2-5 p.m. (All applicants)
Saturday, March 2, 2019:
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (All applicants)
Thursday, May 16, 2019:
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Transfer and graduate applicants)

Undergraduate (Freshmen and Transfer Students)

1. Review your Audition and Interview Requirements

You may apply for either the Jazz Studies program or the Music Education – Jazz Track program. All students must submit an audition video. Video submission deadlines are the last Friday audition date in February for regular applicants and the May audition date for transfer students. Jazz studies applicants may or may not be required to audition in person. Music Education – Jazz Track applicants must also schedule an interview with music education faculty.

  • Jazz Studies

Prepare the video using the following guidelines:

All instrumentalists except drummers are required to demonstrate competency in basic scales.

1. On one track of the audition video, play Major (Ionian) scales up to the 9th and back down in medium/slow tempo (60 BPM) 8th notes. Start in C concert and play all 12 keys around the circle of fourths (C, F, Bb, etc.). You may use a metronome.

2. On another track, do the same for Dorian minor; six keys will be sufficient.

3. On one more track, do the same for Dominant 7th (Mixolydian) for six keys. Vocalists do the same as above but sing three keys each for Major, Dorian minor and Dominant 7.

Song Tracks for Jazz Guitar

1. Perform three contrasting jazz standards (for example, a medium blues, a Latin or Bossa or ECM style tune, and a medium-up or up-tempo tune) in the following format:

a. You play the melody in.
b. You solo for one two choruses.
c. You comp while another player solos (or comp at a louder volume than the play-along CD).
d. You play the melody out.

2. Perform a solo version (chorded melody) of a ballad (either an arrangement or an original is acceptable).

Song Tracks for Jazz Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Piano, Bass, or Voice*

All tunes should be recorded with other musicians, if possible, but may be recorded utilizing an Aebersold (or similar) play-along recording.

1. Perform a medium tempo blues in F or B-flat: head and three choruses. Bass players please note: After the melody, walk for two choruses before your solo (which may be only two choruses). Piano players please note: After the melody, comp for two choruses prior to your solo.

2. Perform a ballad. Melody should be interpreted in a personal way, along with one chorus of improvisation. Piano players please note: your ballad should be played without accompaniment.

3. Perform a medium or up-tempo standard or “modern” jazz tune (may be swing or even eighth). Melody should be fairly close to the lead sheet (exact if selecting an up-tempo jazz tune), along with 2-3 choruses of improvisation. Bass players: After the melody, walk or play the appropriate groove (bossa, Latin, etc) for two choruses prior to your solo.

* Scat singing is optional, not required. All melodies, including the blues, should be your own interpretation, but melody notes should be the correct pitches. If your blues head or up-tempo tune does not have lyrics, either compose something (vocalese) or use scat syllables to sing the head.

Jazz Drum Set Requirements:

1. Perform the following snare drum rudiments (state what each one is before playing it):

a. Single, double and triple paradiddles.
b. Five, seven, and nine stroke rolls.
c. Flam tap, flam accent.
d. Single and double ratamacues.
e. Press roll – soft (pp) to loud (ff), and back down to soft.

2. Demonstrate three contrasting styles or grooves (for example, you might choose from swing, funk, bossa, songo, 6/8 Latin, ECM even eighth, etc.) using three separate tunes. If you are creating a video featuring only yourself, please be sure to play time for two choruses of each selection. If you are utilizing a full group, standard jazz performance practice is acceptable, but any solos, including your own, should be limited to one chorus.

3. Ted Reed Syncopation book, page 32: Play a jazz (swing) ride pattern in the right hand, hi-hat on two and four, while demonstrating various coordination skills between the left hand and right foot.

2. Complete the University and Cali School of Music applications here.


  • Music Education – Jazz Track

A. Prepare the video using the following guidelines:

All instrumentalists except drummers are required to demonstrate competency in basic scales. Include on the video:

1. Play Major (Ionian) scales up to the 9th and back down in medium/slow tempo (60 BPM) 8th notes. Start in C concert and play all 12 keys around the circle of fourths (C, F, Bb, etc.). You may use a metronome.

2. Play the same as above for Dorian minor; six keys will be sufficient.

3. Play the same for Dominant 7th (Mixolydian) for six keys. Vocalists do the same as above but sing three keys each for Major, Dorian minor and Dominant 7.

Song Tracks for Jazz Guitar

1. Perform three contrasting jazz standards (for example, a medium blues, a Latin or Bossa or ECM style tune, and a medium-up or up-tempo tune) in the following format.

a. You play the melody in.
b. You solo for one two choruses.
c. You comp while another player solos (or comp at a louder volume than the play-along CD).
d. You play the melody out.

2. Perform a solo version (chorded melody) of a ballad (either an arrangement or an original is acceptable).

Song Tracks for Jazz Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, Piano, Bass

All tunes should be recorded with other musicians, if possible, but may be recorded utilizing an Aebersold (or similar) play-along recording.

1. Perform a medium tempo blues in F or B-flat: head and three choruses. Bass players please note: After the melody, walk for two choruses before your solo (which may be only two choruses). Piano players please note: After the melody, comp for two choruses prior to your solo.

2. Perform a ballad. Melody should be interpreted in a personal way, along with one chorus of improvisation. Piano players please note: Your ballad should be played without accompaniment.

3. Perform a medium or up-tempo standard or “modern” jazz tune (may be swing or even eighth). Melody should be fairly close to the lead sheet (exact if selecting an up-tempo jazz tune), along with 2-3 choruses of improvisation. Bass players: After the melody, walk or play the appropriate groove (bossa, Latin, etc) for two choruses prior to your solo.

Jazz Drum Set Requirements:

1. Perform the following snare drum rudiments (state what each one is before playing it):

a. Single, double and triple paradiddles.
b. Five, seven, and nine stroke rolls.
c. Flam tap, flam accent.
d. Single and double ratamacues.
e. Press roll – soft (pp) to loud (ff), and back down to soft.

2. Demonstrate three contrasting styles or grooves (for example, you might choose from swing, funk, bossa, songo, 6/8 Latin, ECM even eighth, etc) using three separate tunes. If you are sending a video featuring only yourself, please be sure to play time for two choruses of each selection. If you are utilizing a full group, standard jazz performance practice is acceptable, but any solos, including your own, should be limited to one chorus.

3. Ted Reed Syncopation book, page 32: Play a jazz (swing) ride pattern in the right hand, hi-hat on two and four, while demonstrating various coordination skills between the left hand and right foot.

Contact Dr. Jeffrey Kunkel, if you have questions about the video audition or interview.

2. Complete the University and Cali School of Music applications here. You will receive information about scheduling an interview. After we have reviewed the online video, you may be asked to come in on a regularly scheduled date for a live audition.


General Notes

  • Audition applications will be processed within two weeks.
  • Upon acceptance to the Cali School, various placement tests will be administered.
  • Non-music majors may only take general education music courses.
  • Music minors are not currently offered.

Contact Auditions Coordinator