Auditioning for jazz ensembles
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 [PDF] regarding audition scheduling and policies.
You must arrive at your audition with a completed VCU Jazz Audition form. A limited supply of these forms are also made available on the Jazz Studies bulletin board outside Music Center 2014 but usually disappear quickly.
Audition Dates Fall 2012
- TH 8/23--Noon-5:30p, MC 2014--Jazz Horn (especially Saxes!) auditions for large and small jazz ensembles.
- F 8/24--9:30-10:40a, 12:20-2p, MC 2014--Jazz Horn auditions. (No saxes 10-10:40a or 12:20-1p).
2:10-5p, MC 2014--Jazz Guitar auditions.
- M 8/27-- 9:30-10:30a: MC 2014--Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions. 12:30-4p, MC 2014--Jazz Piano/Bass/Drum auditions.
- Late T 8/28 or early W 8/29-- Posting of ensemble rosters on Jazz Board outside MC 2014. All ensemble members must then register for the correct ensemble, and auditionees not placed in an ensemble they may have registered for must then drop the course so as to avoid receiving a failing grade at the end of the semester.
- W 8/29-- 3:40-5:30p, MC 1003--First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra I.
- TH 8/30, 4:40-6:20p, MC 1003--First rehearsal of Jazz Orchestra II.
- T 9/4-M 9/10--First rehearsals of SJEs (as individually scheduled).
- Horns: Unaccompanied performance of a melody and, if possible, improvised solo over a tune of your choice, especially swing, bossa, Afro-Cuban and samba. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as 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. You may be asked to perform basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, as well as 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. You may be asked to perform an accompanied improvised solo over a tune of your or the jurors’ choice, as well as basic scales to assess range, tone and/or technique, and 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 bring their own cymbals, hi-hat clutch, sticks and brushes.
- Percussion: Unaccompanied performance of styles including bossa, samba and Afro-Cuban. Congas, bongos and some hand percussion are available at the audition.
- All: Sight-reading as provided by the jurors.
All students auditioning for jazz ensembles must download the jazz auditions rhythms [PDF] and practice with swing and even eighths to prepare for your audition. Bring this sheet with you to your audition as you may be asked to start and stop at any measure.
You are also expected to review the sample rhythms (Flash required) and compare it side-by-side with the audition rhythms as a practice tool. Since swing phrasing typically presents a greater challenge than even-eighths, this page is marked to reveal how and why medium-swing phrases are articulated. While viewing this sheet online, click “Example 1” in the upper-left corner to hear a sound-file of the audition rhythms being played with acceptable style. Practice reading either of these two sheets while listening to the sound-file to check to check your playing for errors.
A second audio sample (Flash required) also allows you to view and listen to the audition rhythms being played with unacceptable style, followed by proper phrasing. The page is marked to indicate how each pair of measures differ.
Sample audition pieces may include:
- Swing: “Autumn Leaves,” “Satin Doll,” “Now’s the Time,” “Take the “A” Train” and “Stella by Starlight”
- Bossa: “Blue Bossa,” “Recorda-Me,” “Meditation,” “Wave” and “Black Orpheus”
- Samba: Samba versions of the bossas above are acceptable
- Afro-Cuban: “Mambo Inn” (2-3 clave), “Afro-Blue” (12/8), “Frenesí” (cha-cha), “Como Fue” (cha-cha) and “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” and “Misty”
- Waltz: “Up Jumped Spring,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “All Blues” and “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.