Jazz Arts

As one of the first conservatories in the U.S. to acknowledge the prime importance of jazz as an art form, Manhattan School of Music’s programs of study for jazz arts majors are designed to develop skilled performers, composers, arrangers and jazz educators in preparation for careers in jazz music. Systematic and rigorous conservatory training, combined with a myriad of performance and networking opportunities in New York City make this program one of the richest of its kind for young jazz musicians. Student ensembles include the Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Philharmonic, Chamber Jazz Ensemble, and Jazz Combos. All students in the Jazz Arts degree programs are required to fulfill their ensemble requirement as outlined in their course sequence plans and as assigned by the associate dean of the Jazz Arts Program.

In addition to studies with our expert faculty, students are provided additional opportunities to play for and observe world-renowned guest artists. Recent master classes have included: Gary Burton (vibraphone), Wycliffe Gordon (trombone), Stefon Harris (Class of 1997, 1999 — vibraphone), Vijay Iyer (piano), Lee Konitz (saxophone), Dave Liebman (saxophone, Artist-in-Residence), Jason Moran (Class of 1997— piano), Butch Morris (Conduction Workshop), Christian McBride (bass), Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), Jon Faddis (trumpet), and Maria Schneider (composition). Every concert season, guest soloists are featured in concert with our large ensembles, providing enriched performance experiences for students. Recent guest soloists include Paquito D’Rivera, NEA Jazz Masters Candido and Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker, John Faddis, Joe Lovano, Bob Mintzer, and vocalists Jane Monheit, Roberta Gambarini and Judi Silvano.

The Jazz Department Handbook includes information for current students on a variety of issues including ensemble and audition requirements, juries, recitals, grading systems, etc.

Specific courses and degree sequence plans can be found in the Course Catalog.​

Jazz Composition

Jazz composition is offered for graduate applicants who wish to pursue a Master of Music degree.  Students who major in jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music are presented with several unique and special opportunities to develop their art. These include regularly scheduled composers’ reading sessions each semester for large and small ensembles; two Jazz Philharmonic reading sessions with full studio orchestra (symphony orchestra & jazz big band; sessions are recorded for faculty review and study); student commissions with performance and monetary awards, performance of compositions at Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts, quarterly jazz composers’ concerts for chamber and jazz orchestra ensembles; and open access to two computer-based electronic music studios.

Classes are offered in studio synthesis techniques, composing and arranging for MIDI synthesizer, arranging for jazz composers, advanced studio recording, film scoring classes, songwriting classes.

Jazz Voice

Jazz voice is offered for graduate applicants who wish to pursue a Master of Music degree. The jazz voice program at Manhattan School of Music is designed to prepare each vocalist to be an exceptional performer who is able to function in today’s business of music. The program is spearheaded by our internationally known faculty Theo Bleckmann and Kate McGarry. Here are some of the highlights of the program:

  • Vocalists are part of our unique performance track, combining vocalists and instrumentalists
  • Small combo setting allows for individual attention
  • Improvisation classes mix voice, composition, and instrumental students in an ensemble setting
  • There are performance opportunities with big bands, as well as Jazz Philharmonic orchestra (symphony orchestra with jazz instrumentalists)
  • Performance opportunities with Jazz Arts large ensembles

Doctoral Jazz Arts Advancement Program

The program of study leading to the Manhattan School of Music doctor of musical arts degree is offered with a major in Jazz Arts Advancement.

Program Philosophy

As jazz music continues to work its way into the mainstream of the American education system, new and innovative methods need to be formulated to assure the perpetuation and development of this important art form. The Manhattan School of Music philosophy is that this is best done at the actual point where knowledge is transferred, at the level of the educator.

Having created a program that attracts top musical talent, Manhattan School of Music trains Doctor of Musical Arts candidates through an integrated and innovative educational format that focuses on three distinct and critical areas of jazz music: performance, composition and pedagogy. This three-fold educational concept enables a student to develop as “The Complete Artist Musician” — one who excels equally as a performer, composer, arranger, teacher, conductor of workshops and clinics, and lecturer. This distinctive concept in music education is the central philosophy of the Manhattan School of Music Doctoral Jazz Arts Advancement Program.


General admission information

Audition procedures and repertoire

Jazz Bass Audition
Jazz Composition Audition (Master of Music only)
Jazz Drumset and Hand Percussion Audition
Jazz Guitar Audition
Jazz Piano Audition
Jazz Saxophone, Clarinet, Harmonica, and Flute Audition
Jazz Trombone Audition
Jazz Trumpet Audition
Jazz Vibraphone Audition
Jazz Violin, Viola, and Cello Audition
Jazz Voice Audition (graduate only)
Doctoral Jazz Arts Advancement Program Audition


Stefon Harris

Director, Associate Dean

Chris Rosenberg

Associate Director

Stephanie Crease

Senior Coordinator

Andrew Neesley

Assistant Coordinator

Jazz Arts Faculty

Stefon Harris  (Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts, vibraphone)
Jay Anderson  (Bass )
Jamie Baum  (Flute)
Theo Bleckmann  (Voice)
Rogério Boccato  (Brazilian Percussion/Ensembles)
Luis Bonilla  (Trombone)
Cecil Bridgewater  (Trumpet/Ensembles)
Regina Carter  (Violin)
Sara Caswell  (Violin)
Samir Chatterjee  (Indian Rhythm, tabla/Ensembles)
Garry Dial  (Piano/Improvisation)
Edward Green  (Jazz, Music History)
Stefon Harris  (Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts, vibraphone)
Vincent Herring  (Jazz Saxophone)
Mike Holober  (Jazz Arranging)
Rodney Jones  (Guitar)
Tony Kadleck  (Trumpet)
Bill Kirchner  (Jazz History Electives)
Frank Lacy  (Trombone/Ensembles)
David Liebman  (Saxophone/Artist in Residence )
Jeremy Manasia  (Piano/Ensemble)
Phil Markowitz  (Piano/Ensembles/Graduate Academics)
Donald McCaslin  (Jazz Saxophone)
Kate McGarry  (Voice)
Jim McNeely  (Composition)
Larry Ridley  (Bass )
John Riley  (Drumset)
Chris Rosenberg  (Associate Director of Jazz Arts, Guitar/Ensembles/Pedagogy)
Ted Rosenthal  (Piano/Ensembles/Jazz Piano Styles)
Harvie S  (Bass/Ensembles)
Bobby Sanabria  (Afro-Cuban Jazz History/Ensembles)
Kendrick Scott  (Drumset)
Gary Smulyan  (Jazz Saxophone)
Mark Soskin  (Piano/Ensembles)
Dayna Stephens  (Saxophone)
Joan Stiles  (Theory)
Richard Sussman  (Composition/Electronic Music)
Dave Taylor  (Trombone)
Elio Villafranca  (Jazz)
Scott Wendholt  (Trumpet/Ensembles)
Jack Wilkins  (Guitar)