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Location: Chicago
Start Term: Fall, Spring
Program Type: Major
CCPA’s Jazz and Contemporary Music Studies program prepares its students to succeed in a variety of American Music genres by offering a firm grounding in the language of jazz. This may be used as a jumping off point for explorations into related music, which students experience in our various ensembles. If you are looking for an intensive undergraduate experience in a major urban cultural center, CCPA will provide you with the tools you need for professional success. Opportunities exist to minor in other areas and for a double major in jazz and music education.
Scott Mason
, Program Director

What Differentiates Us

Ensemble Variety

Ensemble Variety

CCPA offers a wide range of ensembles, including vocal jazz (New Deal) and Latin jazz (Puentes). Our Large Jazz Ensemble has a unique instrumentation based on that developed by Gil Evans, and our combos offer immersion in a distinctive style, from Hard Bop to Brazilian to Earth, Wind, and Fire.



All of our concerts take place at the Jazz Showcase, America’s second-oldest jazz club located only a few blocks from campus. In addition, our ensembles perform regularly at the Elmhurst Jazz Festival, the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, and at the annual Jazz Educators Network conference each January.



CCPA jazz majors benefit by our location in downtown Chicago, a major cultural center with strong roots in American jazz, blues, and R & B. Students can attend a wide variety of performances both on-campus and off, and networking with a community of professional musicians provides opportunities in both performance and recording.

Expectations & Requirements


  • Foundation in historical and practical understanding of the musical language of jazz idioms and the evolution of jazz styles
  • Musicianship and reading skills

Sample Courses

Please see the curricula for the Jazz and Contemporary Music programs for further information.

More Opportunities

CCPA American Music Institute - July 13-17, 2020

Join us virtually for this summer intensive institute for high school and college aged students co-led by Dr. Tom Kernan (Head of the Bachelor of Musical Arts program), Scott Mason (Head of Jazz & Contemporary Music), and Rebecca Schorsch (Lecturer, Musical Theatre Voice). Virtual American Music Institute is for students (instrumental and vocal) interested in exploring jazz, blues, folk, musical theater, American songbook, cabaret, contemporary, roots music, and more as well as teachers interested in integrating American Music into their curricula. Visit for application instructions and payment info!


You'll discover that the Jazz and Contemporary Music program at CCPA offers you complete professional training in a beautiful urban setting, where you will study with one of the finest faculties in a downtown location minutes from many of Chicago's jazz clubs and concert venues. In fact, you will perform with your ensembles at the Jazz Showcase, the city's oldest jazz club!
Scott Mason
Head of Jazz and Contemporary Music Program & Artist Faculty, Jazz Bass​,

Admission Info

photo of jazz band

Jazz & Contemporary Music Studies Audition Requirements

Instrumental Jazz & Contemporary Music

Live auditions are approximately 15 minutes.  A rhythm section, amplifiers, and a drum set (without cymbals) will be provided. Applicants will likely be asked to stop in the middle of selections.

All instrumentalists should prepare three jazz standards featuring different styles, moods, and tempos. One must be a ballad. Be prepared to play the head and improvise over several choruses. Applicants must provide music for the accompanying rhythm section in the correct key. Play-along recordings are not permitted.

  • Horn players must play the head once and play a chorus or more of soloing. Sight-reading will be included, and scales may be requested.
  • Pianists and Guitarists must play the head once, followed by a chorus of comping, and a chorus or more of soloing. Sight-reading will be included, and scales may be requested.
  • Bassists must play the head once, followed by a chorus of walking (or appropriate stylistic groove), and a chorus or more of soloing. Sight-reading will be included, and scales may be requested.
  • Drummers must play an appropriate part during the head, followed by a chorus or more of time/comping, and a solo and/or trades with the rhythm section. They will also be asked to demonstrate different musical styles (Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, contemporary grooves, etc.) in various tempos and time signatures, as well as show brush technique. Sight-reading will be included. Drummers must bring their own cymbals, sticks and brushes.

Vocal Jazz & Contemporary Music

Vocalists should prepare two songs: one jazz standard and one contemporary (non-classical) piece. An accompanist will be provided, however, students may accompany themselves or bring a CD play-along. Students will also be asked to improvise over blues changes and given a brief ear-training assessment.