Jazz Studies Audition Requirements

The Jazz Studies Program accepts students on the following instruments: trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano, acoustic bass, and drum set. Auditions are multi-dimensional and are meant to test both your knowledge and skill. We will also look for creativity and general artistic aptitude. Although the audition requirements may seem overwhelming, students are encouraged to relax as much as possible through the process, and not to feel unnecessary pressure to perform perfectly. Mistakes are a part of both life and jazz. Remember that the pursuit of music is a life-long process. We are interested in what your abilities are at this point in your life, and that you try to do your best.

Please read the following carefully. In general, these requirements apply to all students. Certain exceptions, however, apply to students auditioning in percussion and drums (only as noted below).

General Knowledge – Theory and Musicianship

You will be asked questions regarding key signatures, such as how many sharps there are in A major. You will also be asked questions regarding chord voicings (such as what notes are in an Eb dominant 7 chord), and about chord symbols. The chords covered will be:

  • Major 6, Major 7
  • Minor 6, Minor 7, Minor 7 b5, Minor natural 7
  • Dominant 7
  • Diminished 7
  • Augmented major 7, Augmented dominant 7

    (We will not ask questions about upper extensions, such as b9, #11 etc.)

General Performance Skills

You will be asked to perform long notes and scales. The following scales will be covered:

  • Major
  • Minor (natural, harmonic, melodic)
  • Dorian mode
  • Mixolydian mode

    (Those auditioning for percussion and drums will be asked to list the notes in these scales.)

Jazz Composition Performance (does not apply to students auditioning on percussion & drums.)

Students must perform two compositions written by two different composers from the following list. (Note: Do not choose a blues, since this is covered in a different section of the audition.)

  • Louis Armstrong
  • Duke Ellington
  • Charlie Parker
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Thelonius Monk
  • Charles Mingus
  • Clifford Brown
  • Sonny Rollins
  • Miles Davis
  • John Coltrane
  • Wayne Shorter
  • Herbie Hancock

The student must perform the two compositions by memory. You will play the melody, and you must solo over the structure. The solo must be your own, and not a transcription of a recorded one.

Blues Performance (does not apply to students auditioning on percussion and drums)

Students must perform three to four solo choruses of a medium-tempo blues; again, it must be your own solo. You will be asked to play it in one of the following keys (concert): Bb major, Bb minor, C major, C minor, F major, F minor.


You will be given a piece to sight-read the melody. You will also be asked to solo over the chord symbols.


We will ask you about previous jazz experience and instruction, and what your long-term goals and aspirations are. Your interests outside of music will also be discussed, as well as why you have chosen to audition for UCI.

Jazz Drumset and Percussion (does not apply to classical percussion)

For General Skills, you will be asked to name the notes in a given scale. For sight-reading, you will be given a piece to read the rhythms of a melody, adjusting for pitch as you see fit for your instrument.

You will be asked to perform basic skills on your instrument, such as rolls, as well as various grooves, such as swing, Latin, and funk.


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