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Jazz/Jazz Studies

Program Description

Just the Facts

Jazz/Jazz Studies. A program that prepares individuals to study and master the performance and composition of jazz. Includes instruction in the history of Jazz and related musical styles such as the Blues, Jazz composition and theory, improvisation, Jazz instrument and ensemble performance, and related topics.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Additional Information

Do you love music enough to be successful in a jazz studies program? If so, the next step is finding a program where your talents can flourish and develop.

Jazz studies programs are offered at many four-year colleges and universities. There are two common types of degrees: a bachelor of music with a concentration in jazz and a bachelor of arts (BA) in music with a concentration in jazz.

The bachelor of music degree is oriented more toward music and performance. The BA in music leans more toward music theory and a general liberal arts education. Both degrees can usually be completed in four years.

Terry O'Mahoney is a jazz professor. He suggests students find a program that concentrates on piano lessons and music theory. He says they should also study their own instrument from both a technical and an improvisational standpoint.

Good jazz programs include classes in jazz history, performance, ear training, jazz composition and private study. Theory, arranging and combo playing are also essential.

Getting into a jazz studies program is not easy. Auditions and tests, tapes and recitals have to be conquered.

Look hard at the credentials of the faculty. Do their accomplishments inspire you to want to follow in their footsteps? Can you attend a performance given by any members of the faculty? Are any of the professors well-known jazz musicians?

It's not unusual for a student to spend three or four hours a day practicing, according to Grace McNab, coordinator of jazz studies at a college. Fortunately, there is a payoff. Students will be able to imitate and transcribe music as well as play at least basic piano.

Writing skills are also important, both for essays and musical notation.

"In high school, not much other than stage band and jazz choir is usually available," adds McNab. That's why students should also study music outside of school.

"Participate in any ensemble, but specifically jazz ensembles or combos," says O'Mahoney. He also says students should check into summer jazz programs or camps.

Besides tuition and books, you may have to pay for cassette tapes, instrument maintenance, music paper and computer disks.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Musicians, Singers and Related Workers

American Jazz Museum
Tour the history of jazz

A History of Jazz Before 1930
Find out about the roots of jazz


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