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Jazz Studies – Course Offerings

Boise State Jazz Ensemble: The premier jazz group on campus, the Jazz Ensemble meets twice weekly and performs between 4-6 times each semester, on and off campus.  Across its four decades of existence, the ensemble has performed alongside jazz luminaries Wycliffe Gordon, Jon Faddis, Eric Marienthal, Slide Hampton, Allen Vizzutti, Jeff Hamilton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Jamey Aebersold, and many others.  The Jazz Ensemble is a featured performer annually at the Gene Harris Jazz Festival, and this year will be featured with saxophonist David Liebman.

Jazz Lab Band: The newest large jazz group, the Jazz Lab Band meets Wednesday evenings and performs primarily on campus.  Members are selected by audition, but it is open to non-music majors as well as majors, like all performing jazz ensembles at Boise State.

Jazz Combos: Small self-directed jazz groups, with a strong focus on musical communication, improvisation, and creative arranging.  Each combo will meet both on its own and with a coach, and groups are expected to perform both on campus and in the community.  The faculty are happy to assist these groups in creating a business model, producing demos and publicity materials, and seeking their own gigs to perform.

Jazz Improvisation I (spring only): Course in beginning jazz improvisation.  Covers the fundamentals of jazz theory, harmony, melodic development, chord construction, transcription and ear training, and musicianship.  No previous experience as an improvising musician is necessary, and students on any instrument are welcome in this course (note: percussionists will be expected to play a mallet instrument or piano).

Jazz Improvisation II (fall only): Advanced improvisation.  This course will alternate between a strong focus on bebop (blues and rhythm changes/horizontal playing and substitutions/styles from the 1940’s/1950’s, and a more modern approach (pentatonics/modal playing/Coltrane changes/vertical substitutions).  Students may repeat the course for credit.

Jazz Techniques (fall only): Jazz pedagogy for music education majors.  Covers instrumental and vocal jazz ensembles in the public schools and the study of rehearsal planning and procedures, jazz articulations and styles, as well as the materials and methods for teaching improvisation.

Introduction to Jazz: Develops listening skills, historical understanding, and general appreciation of jazz as an art form within its specifically American cultural heritage and context.  Attendance at two live jazz performances is required.  No previous musical background is necessary.

Survey of Jazz (spring only): Explores interpretation of America’s original musical art form through listening and through discussion of socio-cultural contexts of jazz.  Survey covers stylistic influences of nineteenth-century Africa and Western Europe through current living exponents of jazz.  Available for undergraduate or graduate credit.

Rhythm Section LessonsPrivate lessons available on guitar, piano, bass, and drum set.