Jazz Auditions Fall 2021

Combo and Big Band (Jazz Orchestra/Jazz Ensemble/University Jazz Band)

Individual auditions will take place within your applied studio and will be used in determining combo placement and will assist in big band placement (Jazz Orchestra/Jazz Ensemble/University Jazz Band). Jazz majors must participate in these auditions. Others who are auditioning for big band only may opt out of the individual audition and attend the group big band audition detailed below.

For the individual audition, students will be asked to demonstrate:

  1. Technique
    1. Scales/technical exercises determined by the applied teacher.
    2. Common triad and 7th chord arpeggios (Major, minor, dominant, diminished)
  2. Improvisation
    1. Blues melody of choice; improvise 2 choruses (rhythm section players will also comp appropriate to style);
    2. Rhythm changes or standard melody of choice; improvise 1 chorus (rhythm section players will also comp appropriate to style)
  3. Reading
    1. Assigned audition excerpts
    2. Sight reading: given lead sheet of standard or common jazz tune; improvise 1 chorus

You should schedule your audition using this sign-up link:go.niu.edu/jazzauditions.

The schedule will be as follows:

Tuesday, August 24, 1pm-3:30pm – MB 109

Tuesday, August 24, 10am-12pm – MB 122

Tuesday, August 24, 1pm-4pm – MB 105

Monday, August 23, 10am-12pm – MB 143

Tuesday, August 24, 12pm-3pm – MB 473

Tuesday, August 24, 12:45-3:45pm – MB 111 and will consist of:

  1. Technique
    • Demonstration of Swing, Bossa Nova, Samba, Jazz Waltz, Jazz Ballad, Funk, ECM, Afro-Cuban, Mambo
  2. Improvisation
    • Perform and improvise to backing tracks over jazz standards in AABA form and 12-Bar Blues forms.
  3. Reading
    • Assigned piece and sight reading

Music for individual auditions

(All marked excerpt one)




Rhythm Section


NIU Big Band Auditions

Big band auditions will be held on Monday, August 23 from 1 p.m.– 3 p.m. in Music Building (MB) 158 and will continue on Tuesday, August 27 from 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. as needed.

Big bands meet at the following times:

  • Jazz Orchestra (M/W 1 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.) Thomas, dir.
  • Jazz Ensemble (T/Th 4 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.) Villanueva, dir.
  • University Jazz Band (M/W 5:40 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.), GA, dir.

Students will audition in various configurations on different parts (lead parts, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) and will be required to play the posted music excerpts. Music will also be provided for sight-reading and each student will read a minimum of two (2) charts. Improvisation over the progression in the sight-reading examples will be expected as well. Students will be expected to improvise on the blues form (Bb, F, Db medium and up tempo) and “Rhythm” changes form (Bb, up tempo).

Results will be posted and announced at the first Jazz Convocation, Wednesday, August 25 at 4:30pm. (location TBA) Questions? Contact Professor Thomas (reggiethomas@niu.edu).

Music for Big Band auditions

(All marked excerpt two)




Rhythm Section