Students accepted into the Division of Jazz Studies can pursue studies in jazz performance or jazz composition.
Principal private study is available in the following areas: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, voice, piano, guitar, percussion, and double bass.
Jazz performance students’ talents are developed through the cultivation of technique and artistic vision with the goal of building the skills and capabilities necessary to best express themselves musically. These foundations are established through the guidance of a world-class faculty that is steeped in tradition and maintains an eye on the future.
Required courses, such as JAZZ 290 Intro to African American Music, provide a comprehensive understanding of the genre’s roots so that you may see clearly its evolution and better anticipate how past musical ideas will affect your artistry.
At Oberlin, you will perform. You’ll participate in small and large ensembles all four years and perform degree recitals in your third and fourth years.
Oberlin’s small jazz ensembles are a defining feature of the department. Student-formed groups perform twice each semester and receive regular guidance from faculty coaches. You’ll be engaged in repertoire choices and write music for these ensembles.
Critical to the program is consistent exposure to performances, master classes, and private coaching sessions each year by dozens of visiting artists. Recent guests include Kurt Rosenwinkel, Terence Blanchard, Billy Childs, Ben Street, Michael League, Eddie Daniels, Dominick Farinacci, Leo Blanco, Anat Cohen, Benny Golson, and Ingrid Jensen.
The jazz composition curriculum closely follows the jazz performance course of study. All jazz composition students study with an applied studies teacher on their principal instrument. Students in the jazz composition program begin the sequence of courses in private composition in their first year and explore a variety of styles and idioms. Jazz composition study culminates with the public presentation of original works for jazz ensembles of various sizes on students’ junior and senior recitals.