Audition Information


Jazz Ensembles :: Fall 2021

We successfully adapted to the health safety protocols implemented by the university, and are optimistic about a return to normalcy starting in the Fall 2021 semester.  We intend to operate two big bands and two jazz combos, with membership in those groups being available by audition to all ISU students regardless of major.  The groups will rehearse at their designated times and present at least two concerts per semester.  If you have not auditioned before but have interest in playing in an ISU Jazz Ensemble, follow the New Student process (see below).  If you are a returning member, you are expected to re-audition.  Follow the Returning Student process (see below).  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.


Auditions will be in person on Saturday, August 21 between 11:30-3:30 in room 002 at Estes Hall.  Prepare to play an etude/transcription, sight-read, and improvise over any of the three song forms (see below).  We will provide a piano, a drumset, a bass amp, a guitar amp, and music stands.  Fill out the information card HERE before signing up for a time.  The official sign-up sheet will be posted to the ISU Bands bulletin board before the audition day.

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.  Complete the information card and email your audition mp3 file (etude, improv) and the completed to by Saturday, August 21

All ensemble assignments will be posted by August 24 in Estes Hall to the ISU Band bulletin board, the Jazz Ensembles bulletin board (second floor) and the Room #255 bulletin board.  Rehearsals for Jazz 2.0 start August 24.  Rehearsals for Jazz ONE start August 25. 

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. 

A playalong track and chord changes have been provided, and can be downloaded here.

What makes a successful audition?


  • Fill out the info card completely & legibly. Be ready to play at your audition time.
  • Have an etude or transcription prepared and perform with stylistic authenticity.
  • Improvise with sensibility. Sight-read with a good sound & steady time.


  • Fill out the info card completely & legibly.
  • Have an etude or transcription prepared and perform with stylistic authenticity.
  • Improvise with sensibility.
  • Email all materials to by the deadline

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 @ 3:10-4:40 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. 


Please email Mike Giles, Director of Jazz Studies:, Room #255 Music Hall