Auditioning in any context is difficult and emotional. The requirements are vague at times because the selection of pieces is part of the audition process. It is HIGHLY recommended to prepare your audition with a good private teacher.

One mistake is to spend too much time preparing for the next audition or performance and ignore “the big picture.” Spend most of your practice time with long term goals in mind. Where do you want to be in ten years? One of the gifts of being a musician is: cramming for a test or audition doesn’t get us anywhere. Too much of music analysis (and life) is thought of vertically rather than horizontally. None of us go through this life hitting all the right notes, but it IS possible to go through life with style and RHYTHM. Winston Churchill said: “Success is moving from failure to failure with enthusiasm.” Now that’s having your groove. The point is, don’t put too much into any one audition--practice what will make you better in the long run. The road to success is a process NOT an event.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”

Master of Music – Jazz Studies

1.  Contact Melinda Wildman, Academic Advisor for Graduate Programs, for graduate school requirements and appropriate application materials.

2.  Visit the GRADUATE AUDITION page to schedule a live audition. 

3.  Submit a CD of five (5) tunes in contrasting styles: Blues, Bop, Fusion, Cool, Swing, Early Jazz, Latin, etc., resume, a list of all of the tunes you can play (will be used at your live audition), two (2) letters of recommendation and the graduate application.  Submit these materials to:

CVPA Graduate Admissions, MSN 1H4
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax, VA 22030

**Some items in your Graduate Application package can be completed online.  All other documentation needs to be mailed to the above address.  

The "live" audition will consist of two (2) prepared tunes in contrasting styles e.g. Blues/Bop; Swing/Early Jazz etc., one (1) solo transcription and sight-reading.  Applicants should also be able to demonstrate knowledge of scales used in jazz; (Listed at the bottom of this page).  You may use a recorded accompaniment of play-a-long such as Jamey Aebersold.  Rhythm section instruments will demonstrate techniques idiomatic to your instrument e.g. comping, walking, various grooves. 

Bachelor of Music – Jazz Studies

Visit the UNDERGRADUATE AUDITION page to schedule a live audition. 

Jazz Studies "Live" Audition Requirements (Instrumentalists and Vocalists) 

Prepare two (2) tunes in contrasting styles e.g. Blues/Bop; Fusion/Cool; Swing/Early Jazz etc., one (1) jazz piece, etude or solo transcription; all major scales; improvisation over a blues; sight reading and pitch matching.  You may use a recorded accompaniment or play-a-long such as Jamey Aebersold.  Rhythm section instruments will demonstrate techniques idiomatic to your instrument e.g. comping, walking, various grooves.  Drummers may audition on set only or a combination of set and mallets.

Minor - Jazz Studies

You need not have prior experience in jazz to enter the Minor. If you have been accepted as a Music Major you may declare the Jazz Minor at any time. If you are not a Music Major the audition requirements are either the same as the BM in Jazz or the traditional audition. (See School of Music Website)


(Current Mason Students - Instrumentalists & Vocalists)

The Mason Jazz Ensembles are open to all George Mason University students (instrumentalists & vocalists) regardless of degree.

Auditions for placement occur the first week of every semester. The audition includes jazz scales, improvisation, a prepared piece and sight reading. 


Mason Jazz Ensemble (Carroll)
Jazz Workshop Ensemble (Parrell)
Jazz Combos (Beach) 
Jazz Vocal Ensemble (Purcell)
Afro-Cuban Ensemble (McCarthy)

Auditions will take place Tuesday, January 20th (2pm - 5pm) and Wednesday, January 21st (10am - 5:30pm) in PAB 336.  


INSTRUMENTALISTS:  "My Shining Hour" in your appropriate key 




The above link will provide you with appropriate chord charts and play-a-long recordings.  You are responsible for figuring out the melody.  Be prepared to perform three choruses: melody for chorus one, improvise one chorus and finish with one chorus of melody.  Sight-reading and scales will also be part of your audition. E-mail Dr. Purcell at dpurcel2@gmu.edu with any audition questions.  


VOCALISTS:  Sing one song of your choice (jazz preferred), sight-read a brief excerpt of a solo musical line and sing a brief tonal melody test.  Please bring your own musical accompaniment/backing track for either iPod or CD player.  

Sign up for an audition at the SEATING PLACEMENT web page.


Scales Typically Used in Auditions

- Major
- Pentatonic (Major and Minor)
- Blues (Major and Minor)
- Bebop (Major and Dominant)
- Dorian
- Phrygian
- Lydian
- Mixolydian
- Aeolian (Natural Minor)
- Locrian
- Harmonic Minor
- Melodic Minor
- Jazz Minor (Real Minor, Ascending Melodic Minor)
- Lydian Augmented
- Lydian Dominant
- Locrian #2
- Diminished Whole-tone (Altered Scale, Super Locrian)

The Symetric Scales
- Chromatic
- Whole Tone
- Dimished (We are a half-step school)
- Augmented (1, b3, 3, 5, #5, 7)

         JAZZ MEDIA
         JAZZ 4 JUSTICE©

George Mason University
School of Music
Department of Jazz Studies

Dr. Darden Purcell, Director