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Undergraduate | Auditions | Jazz Student Handbook | Music Industry


Before you set up an audition for VCU Jazz, please answer the following True/False questions to see if you fit the profile of the type of student we seek:

T/F   1. I have made my formal application to the university.

We require a completed VCU app before you receive an audition date. So come on: apply to VCU!

T/F   2. I’ve heard the music of Miles Davis or Charlie Parker.

Our entering students are typically avid listeners of the jazz greats, on a variety of instruments (not just your own). The time to start listening aggressively to jazz is before entering a Jazz Studies Program.

T/F   3. I’m interested in jazz not just because it’s closer than classical to the rock music I want to play but because I really love jazz!

Yes, jazz may be closer to rock than classical in some ways. But if you don’t really love jazz, you’re probably going to hate studying it day in and day out! If you want to play rock or blues, learning jazz can help; but it’s not a requirement. We offer a Jazz Studies Program. It’s a gateway to many musical styles (see our MissionStatement ); but if you’re coming here, it should be because you love jazz.

T/F    4. I have a decent GPA and SAT score.

We understand that a lot affects your grades, but there are too many students applying to VCU Jazz with stronger GPAs to leave you much space to get in if you’re in the very bottom tier. We have no published minimum requirements; so there’s no point in asking: the successful applicants’ scores vary each year. But the better your grades and scores, the better your admissions chances—just as with your sightreading, improvisation, or any other element of your application.

T/F   5. When a note is played for me at the piano, I can sing it back.

Matching pitch is an important skill that you should develop before attending VCU. Work on it on your own or with a mentor.

T/F    6. I can read music fluently, both pitches and rhythms.

You have to read music in our school, and students that can read music fluently usually take the available entry-spots over those who are considerably challenged. Some slower readers certainly get in—but the more slow, the less likely.

T/F   7. I have audition pieces that meet the requirements for the audition (such as swing, bossa nova, blues).

Even if you are great at playing your favorite licks or at improvising a piece from scratch, that doesn’t meet the requirements. We want to hear what we’ve listed as our Audition Requirements.

T/F    8. I like to improvise solos.

Some students want to study jazz; but we discover at their audition that they don’t enjoy creating an improvised solo—or simply never have. Those students who want to solo but haven’t much should first take private lessons from an experienced jazz instructor—perhaps even VCU Jazz faculty. Then they can consider coming back to audition for us some months later. Those students who don’t want to solo at all should enroll in a jazz-appreciation course or elect to play in a band that may not require that they solo.


If you answered “False” to two or more of the above, you probably should not apply for entry into the VCU Jazz Studies Program at this time. This does not mean that you cannot or will not be a great musician in the future. You may already be one! It simply means that VCU Jazz is likely not the right fit for you because we can’t provide you what you’re seeking.

If you answered “False” to only one of the above, perhaps you can solve that challenge while still applying to our Program.

If you answered “True” to all of the questions, you should prepare thoroughly and audition for an opportunity to become part of our outstanding Jazz Program.

If you have questions about the admissions process, please contact Ms. Racquel Wallace, our admissions specialist, at the VCU Music Office at (804) 828-1167 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; or e-mail her at .


Legendary soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy is one of the dozens of jazz artists who have presented workshops or performances at VCU.
(photo credited to Antonio J. García)