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Jazz Studies

Curriculum Guide
Jazz Studies (MSWORD)
Music Minors (MSWORD)

The Music Department of the University of Indianapolis recognizes the importance of providing its students with the skills necessary to succeed in today’s world. We offer our students not only a traditional conservatory-based education but instruction in all areas of Jazz Studies as well.
We believe that by offering a curriculum that includes jazz improvisation, arranging, history, theory, pedagogy, and performance, we afford our students greater assurance of success in their future endeavors. This commitment to the inclusion of all areas of Jazz Studies within the music curriculum has led to the development of the Jazz Concentration in the Bachelor’s of Science in Music degree program.

The University of Indianapolis is a leader in offering a concentration in jazz studies. The curriculum is a concentration within the standard four-year liberal arts music degree. Other programs often cannot concentrate on the important aspects of jazz, such as improvisation; this is not the case at the University of Indianapolis. Our college major requires that the student be well trained in all of the traditional areas of music: theory, history, and performance. Our program is designed to produce students who have a complete understanding of jazz—its history, great performers, great arrangers, and relationship to other musics, as well as a knowledge of pedagogy. Since this is a performance-based program, a significant amount of time is spent on that aspect.

It is understood that the Jazz Concentration as a music major is generally pursued in lieu of a minor in another department. For those students whose primary focus of study is in another area, the Jazz Concentration core courses may be pursued as a music minor.

The inclusion of ensemble experience is extremely important in this degree program. Therefore, participation in six semesters of Big Band and four semesters of Combo is crucial performance experience. The cornerstone of our jazz program is improvisation. These ensembles provide practical experience in improvisational skills.


Jazz Keyboard—Practical study of jazz piano technique: voicings for ii-V-I progression, recognition of form, the blues progression, chord substitutions, and study of jazz piano players and styles.

Jazz Improvisation I—Beginning jazz theory: scale-chord relationships, scales, ii-V licks, beginning chord substitution, listening, and methods of practice. Prerequisite: Completion of freshman-level theory.

Jazz Improvisation II—Advanced jazz improvisation theory, chord substitutions, song forms, licks, scale patterns, transcription. Prerequisite: Completion of MUS-208.

Jazz History—Study of the evolution of jazz including important periods and musicians. Eras covered: Pre-jazz, New Orleans, Swing, Bebop, Post-Bebop, Cool, Hard Bop, Avant Garde, Fusion, and Neoclassicism. Includes extensive listening.

Jazz Pedagogy—Study of jazz instruction: rehearsal methods, instruments and rhythm sections, programming, improvisation, materials, and small and large ensembles.

Jazz Arranging(2) SII—Practical study of the techniques of arranging for small and large ensembles in jazz style, including instruments, notation, form, voicings, and part and score preparation.

Jazz Styles(2) SII—Study of jazz improvisation innovators, styles of improvisation, selection of a performer to transcribe, and a project that focuses on a performer of the student’s instrument.




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