Jazz Studies Audition Requirements


Please read the following carefully.

NOTE: This page applies to jazz instrumentalists (acoustic bass, piano, saxophone, trombone, trumpet) and jazz drummers. Applicants to classical percussion should refer to repertoire requirements here.

The audition process for Jazz Studies will involve two separate parts: Step One and Step Two

The following Step One requirements apply to applicants in trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano and acoustic bass. If you are applying on drums, please skip these and scroll down to Step One for Jazz Drummers.



Submit your audition video. You need to perform only the following materials:

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

Submit your performances of 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

Your performances must have backing tracks. Perform the two compositions from memory. Play the melodies and solo over the structures. The solos must be your own, and not transcriptions of recordings.


II. Blues Performance (does not apply to students auditioning on drums)

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


Step One for Jazz Drummers (does not apply to students auditioning on trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano, acoustic bass)

Submit an audition video with the following:

  • Demonstrate a straight ahead jazz time feel (16 bars)
  • Demonstrate a jazz waltz time feel (16 bars)
  • Demonstrate a boss nova and/or sama time feel (16 bars)
  • Demonstrate a funk time feel
  • Demonstrate a balad time feel with brushes (8 bars)
  • Trade 4's with yourself in a jazz (bebop) style: 4 bars of time, 4 bars of improvcised soloing (total of 16 bars)

You are welcome to submit additional material, such as videos of you playing with a bank or with backing trracks, but these are not requirements.



If you pass the auditions for Step One, we will conduct a realtime live interview with you (by Zoom). You must have your instrument ready to perform for us. We will ask you some of the following:

(1) General Knowledge - Theory and Musicianship

You may be asked questions regarding key signatures, such as how many sharps there are in A major. You may 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 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.)

(2) General Performance Skills

You may be asked to perform long notes or scales. You may be asked to name the notes in the scales. The following scales will be covered:

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

(3) Sight-reading

Applicants on trumpet, saxophone, trombone, piano & acoustic bass will be given a piece to sight-read the melody and solo over the chord symbols. Jazz drumset applicants will be asked to sight-read snare drum music.

(4) Interview

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.


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.


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