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Music BM (Jazz Studies)

Bachelor of Music with a concentration in performance/jazz studies

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two saxophonists, a violinist, a guitarist, a bassist and a drummer performing onstage

About the Program

The Bachelor of Music with a concentration in performance/jazz studies will teach you how to develop the skills, concepts and sensitivities that are essential to being a professional musician. Included are courses in music theory, aural skills, music history, conducting and applied study in your principal performing medium. The Jazz Studies curriculum annually affords some 60 students avenues for pursuing jazz and classical studies, including more than a dozen faculty covering all the traditional jazz instruments.

You’ll be taught by faculty who are leaders in their fields, and have regular access to acclaimed visiting artists who come here for concerts, masterclasses and clinics.

Some classes you might take in this major:

  • Introduction to World Musical Styles
  • Survey of the Music Industry
  • Conducting
  • Jazz Theory
  • Jazz Arranging

Our alumni are:

  • Solo and orchestral performers
  • Composers and arrangers
  • Jazz educators
  • Music entrepreneurs
  • Performing arts administrators

VCU Jazz Studies Mission Statement

The VCU Jazz Studies Program offers a professional course of study that teaches the skills required to:

  • excel in the creation and performance of written and unwritten music (pre-planned and improvised), especially that described by the term “jazz”;
  • consider one’s own educational experiences as a springboard for future teaching and audience development; and
  • interact in the world of media, technology, and business so as to bring one’s creative works effectively into the public’s awareness and thus sustain a successful career.

VCU Jazz recognizes that its own mission includes a responsibility to provide and promote a high standard of jazz performance within the Richmond region and beyond, including not only its home concerts and area performances but also its more-distant outreach efforts via recording, touring, and the Internet.

The Program believes that the body of work of past jazz masters not only stands on its own but also provides a firm basis for the development of the future of music—jazz and beyond. However, it does not consider the learning of past genres of jazz to be an end in itself, nor does it seek to graduate clones whose entire future is to recreate music of the past.

Jazz has long been and will long remain a basis for myriad musics derived from jazz roots; crossing all cultures, genders, and nations; absorbing from and spilling over into classical, rock, popular, and more. Our goal is to prepare our students for that future. The combination of a dedicated and creative faculty, inspiring guest artists, quality large and small ensembles, informative courses, and numerous performing opportunities in and outside of the school makes this goal readily achievable.

students in jazz class

Faculty

Learn more about our world-class jazz faculty.

Guest Artists

Jazz students have frequent opportunities to learn from guest artists, clinicians and other industry professionals.

Jazz Alumni

Our alumni have performed with Bon Iver and Foxygen; have appeared on Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and David Letterman; have composed film, TV, and videogame scores; and are superb educators, composers, and performers throughout local, national, and international venues.

Jazz Ensembles