Audition Information

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Join an ISU Jazz Ensemble

Interested in participating in a jazz ensemble at Iowa State University? We currently operate with two big bands and a handful of jazz combos. These groups primarily focus on using traditional jazz instrumentation (saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, drums), although other disciplines are included from time to time. Membership in these ensembles is open to all students currently enrolled at Iowa State, and is determined by the audition process by the director. 

Jazz Ensembles :: Spring 2021

We have successfully navigated the fall semester by reducing rehearsal time, maintaining an appropriate social distance, and wearing masks as often as possible.  Building upon the safe measures and worthwhile music making, we are optimistically following the same plan for the spring semester. Our ensembles are again open to returning members, prospective participants, and both majors and non-majors alike. The groups will rehearse at their designated catalog times, with adjustments expected to be made in accordance with safety guidelines. If you have not auditioned before but have interest in playing in an ISU Jazz Ensemble, follow the process detailed below. Groups are assembled based upon ability and availability. You will be contacted directly if you are admitted into an ensemble, and will be instructed to register for that particular course. Feel free to reach out via email with any questions or concerns.  mgiles@iastate.edu

NEW STUDENTS: Fill out the information card here.

Auditions for saxophone, trumpet, and trombone will be virtual. VIDEO record yourself playing an etude/transcription and improvising over one of the provided tunes/playalongs. Be sure that the backing track is audible. Fill out the information card here. Email your audition video file (etude, improv) to mgiles@iastate.edu.

Auditions for drumset, bass, guitar, and piano will be LIVE. Prepare the material and expect to sight-read. Reserve an audition time by signing up on the list posted to the band bulletin board. Sticks and cables are needed. Drums, amplifiers, and a piano will be provided.

RETURNING STUDENTS: Your auditions will be virtual. Audio record yourself playing an etude/transcription and improvising over one of the provided tunes/playalongs. Be sure that the backing track is audible. Fill out the information card here. Email your audition mp3 file (etude, improv) to mgiles@iastate.edu

All ensemble assignments will be made by Monday, January 25.

Rosters will be posted on the band bulletin board and the room #255 bulletin board.

COVID-19 concessions:  Due to the unpredictable nature of this global pandemic and in attempt to maintain safe environments for everyone, the jazz ensembles for the SPRING 2021 semester will range from 4 players to 10 players. There will be no full-size big bands, and regrettably the reduced instrumentation will undoubtedly leave some talented & deserving musicians without a jazz outlet. Please know that every effort will be made, while in compliance with departmental and university policy, to resume the full-size big bands as soon as possible. Unique programming opportunities have emerged from this chaos, and I’m pretty excited about what we can pull together exclusively for this semester. All ISU jazz ensemble concerts will be closed to the public but will be webcasted through our departmental website. Your flexibility and understanding with programming & scheduling during this fall semester is appreciated. 

the ISU Jazz Ensemble Audition has three components:

sight-reading: Each audition requires sight-reading. You will be given a piece of music, likely extracted from a big band chart. You will be allowed a few moments to look it over before playing it live. This exercise reveals your ability to read music in a pressurized environment.  *new students only*

etude/transcription: Each audition requires a prepared jazz etude or jazz transcription of an equal level. This material should showcase your strengths, reflect your preparation for the audition, and indicate your current level of musicianship. If you choose to play your own jazz etude or jazz transcription, be sure that it is at an equal level of difficulty to the examples provided. Examples of appropriate jazz etudes are available for each instrument here.  

improvisation: Each audition requires an improvised solo. Considerations include harmonic knowledge, form awareness, stylistic authenticity. Choose one of the three tunes listed below. 

What makes a successful audition?

NEW STUDENTS:

  • Fill out the info card completely & legibly. 
  • Have an etude or transcription prepared and perform with stylistic authenticity.
  • Improvise with sensibility. 
  • Be sure you submit your audition material via email.

RETURNING STUDENTS:

  • Fill out the info card completely & legibly.
  • Have an etude or transcription prepared and perform with stylistic authenticity.
  • Improvise with sensibility.
  • Be sure you submit your audition material via email.

Email all materials to mgiles@iastate.edu.

Playing in an ISU Jazz Ensemble

getting in an ensemble: All students must audition for consideration. Ensembles are assembled at the sole discretion of the director. Outfitting jazz big bands and jazz combos is determined by a student’s  ABILITY and AVAILABILITY. You will be placed in an ensemble that challenges your talents and works with your academic schedule. Engagement and attendance at rehearsals are paramount, and appearance and performance at scheduled concerts is required. 

jazz ONE : (MUS113A) tue/thu @ 2:10-3:40 in room 102

jazz 2.0 : (MUS113B) mon/wed @ 3:20-4:45 in room 102

jazz combos : (MUS321J) rehearsals (tbd) 2x/week in room 002

not placed in an ensemble: Because of scheduling conflicts every new semester, there is some occasional turnover in our ensembles. Your audition information card (with your contact info and a synopsis of your audition) is kept and referred to if an opening occurs. Please know that some of our finest jazz performers have auditioned multiple times before earning a spot in an ensemble and contributing significantly. Keep practicing, keep listening, and check out our on-campus jazz events. 

QUESTIONS?

Please email Mike Giles, Director of Jazz Studies: mgiles@iastate.edu, Room #255 Music Hall