Jazz

The Jazz Studies program at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is one of the oldest and most highly regarded jazz programs in Australia. Students work alongside some of Australia’s best-known jazz musicians and composers and are trained in improvisation, ensemble playing and repertoire development. Studies in aural, harmony and history subjects support these skills. The aim is for each student to achieve both artistic individuality and a high level of musical literacy. Students benefit from small numbers for maximum contact with staff and fellow players.

Regular masterclasses and performance workshops with guest lecturers supplement individual instrumental training (recent guests include Aaron Goldberg and Jim Black), and our expert tutors direct weekly jazz improvisation classes. Classes in jazz music business skills prepare graduating students for the non-musical aspects of their career. The program also includes three big bands and eleven small ensembles, with many opportunities for performance within the Sydney Conservatorium and at jazz festivals. In 2010 the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Big Band was invited to perform at the Shanghai World Expo.

Study Options

Jazz Performance

Jazz Voice

Jazz Faculty

Audition Requirements

Audition DVD Recording
Where possible, you should attend a live audition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. If you are an interstate or international applicant and cannot attend in person, you may upload a video recorded audition through the application process. The recordings must be no older than six weeks at the time of dispatch.Audio-only recordings will not be accepted.

Undergraduate

Instrumental principal study is available in bass, brass, drums, guitar, piano, vibraphone and woodwind.

Accompaniment for Live Auditions
Jazz applicants must use the Conservatorium accompaniment which is provided free of charge as part of your audition.

Jazz Aptitude Test

All undergraduate jazz applicants must complete the Jazz Aptitude Test, which assesses general music skills and knowledge of the history and construction of jazz. It is used in conjunction with the audition process to determine a candidate’s suitability for entry into one of the jazz degree programs at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Questions will range from the historically based, such as associating an instrument with a performer, to an aural component covering meter, pitch, rhythm and harmony. The test lasts for approximately one hour and is primarily composed of listening questions. The candidate will need to bring writing equipment, including an eraser. This test must be attended on the same day as the audition.

Jazz Performance (Instrumental) and Jazz Vocal

If you are applying for principal study in jazz performance in any course in which it is offered, you should be aware of the following:

  1. The audition examines a range of musical skills and has a duration of approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. You will be provided with Conservatorium jazz staff accompaniment.
  3. Drum kit, amplifiers, pianos and vibraphones are provided.

Please note: Drummers should bring their own cymbals and hi-hat clutch, and bassists and guitarists should bring their own leads.

Jazz Instrumental (Except Drummers)

1. A jazz standard from the list of songs below: You should perform the melody in a jazz style and one or two choruses of improvisation over the form of the tune. There is no need to play the melody again at the end of the tune. Bassists should be able to perform the melody and walk through the chord changes, as well as solo. Guitarists and pianists should be able to demonstrate accompanying skills by playing behind a bass or piano solo as appropriate.

Song List for Jazz Auditions: Autumn Leaves (Kosma/Mercer), All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern), Stella By Starlight (Victor Young), I Love You (Cole Porter), On Green Dolphin Street (B. Kaper), Take The A Train (Duke Ellington), In A Mellow Tone (Duke Ellington), It Could Happen To You (J. Van Heusen), There Is No Greater Love (Marty Symes/Isham Jones), Someday My Prince Will Come (Frank Churchill) and What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter).

2. The 12-bar blues: A specific jazz blues melody is not required. You should solo in jazz style for three choruses on the 12-bar blues with chord changes in three consecutive chromatic keys. For example, first chorus in C, modulating up a semitone to Db for the second chorus, modulating up a semitone to D for the third chorus. The keys chosen may not be C, Db and D. You are strongly advised to know the blues in all 12 keys. Suggested 12-bar blues chord progression:

| C7 | F7 | C7 | C7 | F7 | F7 | C7 F7 | E-7 A7 | D-7 | G7 | C7 | D-7 G7 |

The above example is in C and needs to be transposed to other keys, and the last bar needs to be raised by a semitone to transpose into a key centre a semitone higher, as per the blues audition requirement. In the above example, the last bar should be Eb-7/Ab7 to arrive at Db7.

3. An aural test: The test will consist of ten intervals up to and including a ninth; ten chords drawn from major, minor, augmented, diminished and dominant chord families; and you should attempt to identify all extensions and alterations as appropriate. The aural test will be held during the Jazz Aptitude Test.

4. Scales and arpeggios (technical exam): You will be asked to play the major scale, the melodic minor and harmonic minor scale in any or all of the 12 keys and the arpeggios of the various chord types drawn from the following: major, major 7, dominant 7, minor, minor 7, minor 7b5, diminished, diminished 7 and augmented in any of the 12 key tonalities.

5. Sight reading: You will be asked to sight read the melody of a jazz standard, play it in an appropriate jazz style and then improvise a solo of the chord changes for one chorus to demonstrate the ability to read musical notation as well as follow and interpret a set of chord changes.

Jazz Instrumental (Drummers Only)

1. A jazz standard from song list for jazz auditions: You will set the tempo of the tune and will perform in a trio setting (with bass and either piano or guitar) with the following format: one chorus of trio playing the melody; one chorus piano or guitar solo (bass and drums accompanying); one chorus drum solo over the form of the tune; and there is no need to play the melody again at the end of the tune. You should demonstrate accompanying skills, good “time” and “feel” and ability to solo in a style appropriate to the chosen tune.

2. The 12-bar blues: A specific blues melody is not required. You will perform a 12-bar blues in a trio setting, the tempo of which will be set by the audition panel in the format of four choruses of trio playing, followed by four choruses of four bar exchanges, i.e. four bars piano, bass and drums, four bars drums, etc. You will be assessed on time, feel and stylistic appropriateness.

3. An aural test: The test will consist of ten intervals up to and including a ninth; ten chords drawn from major, minor, augmented, diminished and dominant chord families; and you should identify all extensions and alterations as appropriate. The aural test will be held during the Jazz Aptitude Test.

4. Sight reading test: You will be asked to sight read a short drum chart which will be played with the bass and piano or guitar. The chart will be in typical big-band style with figures or “hits” above the stave, etc. You will be assessed on accuracy, interpretation, dynamics and fluidity.

5. Grooves/Styles: You will be asked to play the following feels at an appropriate tempo range: bossa nova, mambo, ballad (brushes), medium swing (brushes), medium/fast swing (brushes), jazz waltz and fast swing (sticks). You will be assessed on consistency of time and feel, dynamics and the authenticity of the various feels.

Jazz Vocal

1. Jazz vocal style: You will sing two jazz standards–one swing or bossa nova and one jazz ballad from the lists below:

Swing and Bossa Nova: Autumn Leaves (Kosma/Mercer), All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern), Stella By Starlight (Victor Young), Our Love Is Here To Stay (George Gershwin), I Love You (Cole Porter), On Green Dolphin Street (B. Kaper), Take The A Train (Duke Ellington), Satin Doll (Duke Ellington), It Could Happen To You (J. Van Heusen), Someday My Prince Will Come (Frank Churchill), What Is This Thing Called Love (Cole Porter), Corcavado (A.C. Jobim) and Triste (A.C. Jobim).

Jazz Ballads: My Funny Valentine (Rodgers and Hart), But Beautiful (J. Van Heusen), My Foolish Heart (V. Young), Polkadots and Moonbeams (J. Van Heusen), Darn That Dream (J. Van Heusen), When Sunny Gets Blue (Segal & Fisher) and Body and Soul (J. Green).

2. Scales: You must be able to sing the major, melodic minor and harmonic minor scales.

3. Sight Reading: You must be able to accurately read a written melody that will take into account your voice type and range.

4. Aural Test: The test will consist of ten intervals up to and including ninths; ten chords drawn from major, minor, augmented, diminished and dominant chord families; and you should attempt to identify all extensions and alterations as appropriate. The aural test will be held during the Jazz Aptitude Test.

Postgraduate

Instrumental principal study is available in bass, brass, drums, guitar, piano, vibraphone and woodwind.

You will be required to complete an audition lasting approximately 30 minutes comprised of selections that reflect your musical interests. You will also be required to attend an interview of approximately 30 minutes conducted by your audition panel.