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Bachelor's in Jazz and Contemporary Music (BM)

Chicago College of Performing Arts
The Jazz and Contemporary Music program develops students' improvisation abilities and helps each student realize her or his unique voice as a performer and as an arranger/composer.
Roosevelt University's Wabash tower and Auditorium building in Chicago

Location: Chicago
Start Term: Fall, Spring
Program Type: Major

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

More Opportunities

The jazz combo sequence is designed so that each group is devoted to a particular style emphasis. Assignments rotate every semester so that students acquire a foundation in the most crucial styles of jazz and learn important repertory and composers associated with each. The combo program also provides opportunities for students to write arrangements which are performed on public concerts.

Performance Opportunities

Unique ensemble programs, with a large ensemble structured around the historic Birth of the Cool instrumentation of Miles Davis and Gil Evans, Latin jazz experience, a vocal jazz group, and a style-based combo sequence integrating instrumentalists and vocalists.


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​,
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.