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Jazz Emphasis


The jazz emphasis program is designed to prepare students for teaching and performing jazz music. Students in the program will learn the long and diverse history of a truly original American art form, as well as gain firsthand experience performing it.

The program allows students to understand and perform a wide variety of jazz styles, including but not limited to trad jazz, swing, big band, bebop, fusion, Latin and contemporary. Some areas of the program are flexible to allow students to learn and perform music that resonates most closely with them.

Career Opportunities

Incorporating jazz skills into the curriculum allows students to perform more effectively on more types of gigs. Today, a well-rounded musician is more valuable than one who only knows and performs one style or genre.


Required Courses

  • MUC 206-S03-Jazz Ensemble (4 credits)
  • MUC 206-S04-Jazz Combo (2 credits)
  • MUC 218-Jazz Improvisation (2 credits)
  • MUC 224D-History of Jazz (2 credits)
  • MUC 236-Jazz Piano Skills (1 credit)

Learn more about these courses in the University catalog.

Student Experiences

Jazz Ensemble

Students will perform in a traditional big band setup, as well as have opportunities to solo and improvise.

Jazz Combo

Students will perform in a traditional combo setting, a much more mobile and flexible ensemble with variable instrumentation and a heavy emphasis on improvisation. Occasionally students will have the opportunity to perform at other functions in additional to the scheduled concert (dinners, receptions, events, etc.).

Jazz Improvisation

Students will learn the fundamentals of improvising over chord changes and making melodies in an interactive classroom setting.

History of Jazz

Students will learn the history of jazz from its origins in African culture to modern day living artists and improvisational styles with an emphasis on primary sources and historical articles.

Jazz Piano Skills

Students learn the fundamentals of jazz harmony through piano technique.


Gabriel Piqué
Assistant Professor, Saxophone & Jazz Studies