Jazz Auditions

Jazz Ensembles are open to all university students (instrumentalists and vocalists) regardless of major, based on an audition the first two days of classes each semester.

Students may audition for placement in the following ensembles. Rehearsal times listed below.

JAZZ ENSEMBLE AUDITIONS – Spring 2021 (current Mason students) 

  • Instrumental Piece:  
  • Instrumentalists:  Play the melody for one chorus and improvise for two choruses. In addition there will be sight-reading on the audition. Please bring your own musical accompaniment, backing track (iPod, Phone or CD)
  • Vocalists:  Sing one song of your choice (jazz preferred), sight-read a solo musical line and sing a brief tonal melody test. Please bring your own musical accompaniment, backing track for either iPod, Phone or CD player.
  • Visit the SEATING PLACEMENT AUDITIONS page to sign up for an audition. If all audition slots are filled, please e-mail Dr. Darden Purcell

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. Please set up an appointment with Dr. Darden Purcell to discuss before official declaration.
  • If you are not a music major, the audition requirements are the same as the Bachelor of Music – Jazz Studies.
  • Contact Dr. Darden Purcell to set up an audition.

Bachelor of Music – Jazz Studies (Instrumental and Vocal)

  • Visit the Undergraduate Auditions page for application/audition information and process.
    • Two selections in contrasting styles (Blues/Bop, Fusion/Cool, Swing/Early Jazz, etc.)
    • Etude or solo transcription
    • Major scales
    • Improvisation over a blues (if not improvising over prepared selections)
    • 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.
    • Applicants should use a play-a-long accompaniment track (Jamey Aebersold or other backing track) 
    • Audition will also include sight-reading and pitch matching

Master of Music – Jazz Studies

  • Visit the Graduate Auditions page for application/audition information and process.
  • Applicants should submit a video recording to the SlideRoom portal within the application to the university. The link for SlideRoom submissions will be sent to you via email upon submission of your online application.
    • This video should include five (5) tunes in contrasting styles, resume, and a complete list of all tunes you can play (this list will be used at your live audition).
  • The School of Music will contact MM Jazz Studies applicants regarding a live audition once your SlideRoom submission has been reviewed by faculty.
    • If invited, the “live” audition will consist of two (2) prepared tunes in contrasting styles, one (1) solo transcription and sight-reading.
    • Applicants should also be able to demonstrate knowledge of scales used in jazz.
    • Applicants should use a play-a-long accompaniment track (Jamey Aebersold or other backing track) 
    • Rhythm section instruments will demonstrate techniques idiomatic to your instrument e.g. comping, walking, various grooves.

Doctor of Musical Arts, Jazz

Visit the Doctoral Auditions page for further application/audition information.

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