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Undergraduate | Auditions | Jazz Student Handbook | Music Industry

Auditions

To Be Admitted Into Jazz Ensembles (once attending VCU)

Once enrolled at VCU, students are encouraged to audition for VCU’s Jazz Orchestras and Small Jazz Ensembles. All interested students are required to read the applicable portions of the VCU Jazz Studies Handbook regarding audition scheduling and policies.

You must arrive at your audition with a completed VCU Jazz Audition Form. Though sometimes initially available on the Jazz Bulletin Board, these forms tend to disappear quickly. A printable PDF of this form for Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 is provided online for your convenience

Ensemble audition content is typically as follows:

  • Horns: Unaccompanied performance of a melody (and if possible, improvised solo) over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban, and samba. Potential accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors' choice. Possible 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. Possible basic scales to assess range, tone, and/or technique. Potential 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. Potential accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors' choice. Possible basic scales to assess range, tone, and/or technique. Potential 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 bringtheirown cymbals, hi-hat clutch, sticks, and brushes. )
  • Percussion: Unaccompanied performance of styles including bossa, samba, and Afro-Cuban. (Congas, bongos, some hand percussion available.)
  • All: Rhythmic reading available in advance from the Jazz Studies web site and Jazz Board. Sight-reading as provided by the jurors.

Sample tunes might include:

  • Swing: Autumn Leaves, Satin Doll, Now’s the Time, Take the "A" Train, Stella by Starlight
  • Bossa: Blue Bossa, Recorda-Me, Meditation, Wave, Black Orpheus
  • Samba: Samba versions of the bossas above would be among those acceptable.
  • Afro-Cuban: Mambo Inn (2-3 clave), Afro-Blue (12/8), Frenesí (cha-cha), Como Fue (cha-cha), 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, Misty
  • Waltz: Up Jumped Spring, Someday My Prince Will Come, Alice in Wonderland, All Blues, Bluesette

You are not limited to the above choices; these are merely examples. However, free improvisation, a demonstration of favorite licks, or singing a favorite blues tune along with accompaniment will not meet the audition requirements. Also note that VCU Jazz does not offer any curricular vocal jazz instruction at this time, though student vocalists sometimes sing with our large and small jazz ensembles.

Students successfully admitted into jazz ensembles are required to read the applicable portions of the VCU Jazz Studies Handbook regarding ensemble scheduling and policies.

 

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)