Jazz Composition Audition

Prescreening Procedures
Performance Review

In order to be considered for a live audition in New York City, all Jazz Composition applicants must first submit scores and an edited recording of their work for prescreening, as well as a Performance Review recording demonstrating their ability to perform on their instrument or voice.  These must be uploaded directly to your application on Decision Desk.

All prescreening materials must be uploaded by December 1st. Requirements for these submissions are outlined below.

Scores and Recordings

Undergraduate level

Present at least four pieces, including three for small ensemble (3-10 instruments) and one for large ensemble (10 or more instruments). One of the four pieces must include a vocal part or a vocal ensemble. A MIDI-realized work is optional. Additionally, applicants must submit an 8-10 minute edited recording of all submitted pieces which includes only the written (composed) portions of their work. Improvised sections are not to be included in this recording. This recording should be accompanied by a PDF copy of each of the scores represented on the recording (edited to reflect the recording). Other scores may be submitted as well.

Graduate (non-doctoral) level

Present at least four large ensemble pieces. At least one of the four can be for studio orchestra or a chamber-sized ensemble. One of the four pieces must include a vocal part or a vocal ensemble. A MIDI-realized work is optional. Additionally, applicants must submit a 10-12 minute edited recording of all submitted pieces which includes only the written (composed) portions of their work. Improvised sections are not to be included in this recording. This recording should be accompanied by a PDF copy of each of the scores represented on the recording (edited to reflect the recording). Other scores may be submitted as well.

Performance Review Recordings

In addition to submitting recordings and scores of compositions, jazz composition applicants must submit a video recording of their playing. Recordings must be uploaded directly to your application on Decision Desk This recording must include all of the repertoire listed below. It is not required that the format be a professional or studio recording, but the sound quality must be as good as possible. Repertoire must demonstrate the ability to improvise and play with a rhythm section, using a live band or play-along recording.

  • Required piece (must be first on the recording): the 12-bar blues piece Billie’s Bounce in medium tempo (minimum of four improvised choruses)
  • Two additional pieces in contrasting styles, tempos, and keys

Live Audition

Jazz Composition applicants who are invited to audition, based on prescreening results, must complete a two-part process (an exam and an audition/interview), which takes place over a two-day period. There is no performance component to the exam or the audition/interview process for jazz composers.

Part I. Entrance Examination

Applicants are required to take a written entrance examination on various theoretical and practical matters pertaining to musical composition. The exam also includes a composition assignment. A piano will be provided for applicants’ use during the exam. The duration of the exam will be 90 minutes for undergraduate applicants and 3 hours for graduate applicants.

Part II. Audition/Interview

The following day, applicants will be required to interview with the jazz composition faculty. At that time they will present three copies of each of their compositions and recordings.  Recordings should be presented either with a CD or a device that can be patched into a stereo system (iPod, iPhone, laptop, etc.).


Doctoral Applicants

Click here for information about the Doctoral Jazz Advancement Program >