Shenandoah’s Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies trains you as a comprehensive musician and prepares you for a career in the broad field of contemporary music, which includes jazz, popular, commercial, classical and studio music.
The program blends study in improvisation, arranging, history and theory with a background in audio, video and web-based technology, providing a solid foundation to build your career as a performer, composer, recording artist, business leader and teacher.
The philosophy of the Shenandoah Conservatory Jazz Studies program is grounded in the belief that 21st century artists will work in a variety of settings, where performing, composing, studio work, and teaching are important components of a successful musician’s overall career. Students receive training in technology and jazz teaching techniques, and enter the professional arena as performers and arrangers in the broad field of contemporary music which includes jazz, commercial, classical, and studio music.
You’ll learn from inspiring performers and passionate teachers, and interact with a vibrant community of jazz and classical musicians. You’ll also perform on recording projects in a world-class recording studio, perform with guest artists (chosen from the best in the world), travel internationally to perform, and enjoy clinic opportunities from guest lecturers.
From the moment I first visited Shenandoah’s campus, I felt a strong since of community and respect amongst the students and faculty. At Shenandoah, you can pursue your passion with confidence knowing that everyone around you is in full support of cultivating your career, together.
– Mark G. Meadows, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jazz
“Best Composer” and “Recording of the Year” — Washington City Paper, 2016
Jazz Ensemble tours Ireland
On May 17 – 26, 2013, the Jazz Ensemble from the Shenandoah Conservatory toured Ireland performing in several venues. They also had opportunities to visit the many natural and historic sites of “Emerald Isle.”
Learn More About This Program
Shenandoah offers me a fantastic opportunity to work with some of the best teachers and musicians in the nation. Because of my time at Shenandoah, I have become exactly who I wanted to be when I first picked up the trumpet 13 years ago. I have traveled the nation performing with different groups and have made extremely important contacts because of the faculty of Shenandoah.”
Michael Christie | Jazz Studies, ‘17
The National Jazz Workshop faculty represents the best jazz educators and performers from Washington, D.C., an area known worldwide as one of the nation’s most prestigious and innovative centers for jazz performance. The eighth annual National Jazz Workshop will take place July 9–14, 2017. Learn more by visiting the National Jazz Workshop website.
Minor in This Program
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre, and Dance for all Shenandoah University students. Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Declaring a Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application. Applications are for intended majors only.
Career Possibilities and Preparation
Graduates in Jazz Studies depart with a comprehensive ePortfolio, including a press kit, website, video and audio of performances, scores of original jazz pieces, transcriptions, and samples of writing.
Our program will prepare you to perform as the leader of your own group, and you will also know how to manage the group and develop public relations materials. You’ll have the foundation of knowledge and experience necessary to perform in jazz and contemporary ensembles, work as a studio musician, provide private instruction, lead ensembles, and teach other jazz course work, including as an adjunct faculty member at a college or university.
My off-campus job isn’t quite so off-campus as you would expect from a college student. Thanks to the social aspect of Shenandoah and the Conservatory, my friends and I decided to create a student-led band called “Bees?”. After 7 months, we’ve gone from jamming in a combo room in the back corner of the school, to finishing and selling our new EP and performing extensively in the Winchester area, as well as in Connecticut and New York City. As we continue to thrive, I start to see my dream of performing jazz fusion in a popular music setting coming true, and it wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for Shenandoah bringing us together. I would love to join the military bands and perform music in service to my country. As I grew up, I learned primarily from musicians and teachers that had participated in the military’s performing groups and, in my opinion, they are the pinnacle of representing America in music around the world. I would also love to travel the country as a musician, and bring my music to anyone who wants to hear it.
Nicholas Serbu | Jazz Studies, ’18
Jazz Studies major Nathan Davis ’17 went from barely applying to college to accepting a teaching fellowship at UNT! “I didn’t think I could get accepted into any colleges. Shenandoah University gave me a chance and let me audition. Over the past four years I’ve had opportunities I would have never expected. I started playing lead trombone in the SU big band my second semester, my sophomore year I played a solo in the premiere of Wynton Marsalis’ “Blues Symphony” at Strathmore. This year I got into the Disneyland All-American College Band and was offered and accepted a teaching fellowship to direct the U-Tubes (UNT’s jazz trombone ensemble).”
The Career Services Office provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to assist Shenandoah students in their career search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
Enjoy learning in small classes of 3-6 students in the Jazz Studies Program.
You Will Learn:
- Improvisational skills
- Composition and arranging for jazz ensembles of various sizes
- Concentrated study of jazz repertoire and jazz history
- Jazz and traditional theory studies
- Jazz pedagogy
- Music technology and its relevance in the industry
Course Examples for Each Year of Study
Critical Listening, a course devoted to the art of listening for musical elements, recording techniques, with an exploration of the affect of music on the brain.
Jazz Theory: this two semester sequence introduced students to the depth of the theory concepts in the jazz idiom, focusing on analysis of the improvised solo, exploring great jazz compositions, and practical knowledge of chord/scales relationships.
Jazz Repertoire: students perform and memorize approximately one hundred jazz standards during this two semester sequence, preparing them for the ‘real world’ of jazz performance.
Students participate in an independent study with faculty members who push the student beyond their traditional course work. Students have worked with theorists, composers, great soloists, and business faculty.
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
The Jazz Studies program at SU gives me the opportunity to experience great things as a musician. As a freshman, I’ve performed in Jazz Ensemble, combos, the Little Big Band, and many informal opportunities. I have a really wonderful personal connection with my professors who are helping me grow as a musician and human being.
– Matthew White ’21
Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 400 performances each year. Enroll in a dynamic curriculum and start preparing for a meaningful career in the arts. You will practice your craft in front of audiences and develop a plan for your professional launch into the industry that focuses on your personal desires and aspirations.
Embrace extensive performance opportunities with top-tier facilities from theatres, concert halls and dance studios. Unite with fellow artists and join an alumni family that takes center stage from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe.
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 20 instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Performance Opportunities Abroad
The Jazz Ensemble has completed eight international tours and performed in these countries:
The band also has performed domestically, has appeared at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival, and has performed at Blues Alley in Washington DC.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory and study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
I am studying jazz trumpet performance under Craig Fraedrich. Not only is he helping me become a better jazz soloist and lead trumpet player, he is also giving me real life experience and tips on how to survive as a musician which is one of the most important things for a student musician to learn.
Michael Christie | Jazz Studies, ‘17
Shenandoah’s phenomenal faculty have guided me in my growth as a musician and as a person. To me, the best way to give back to my home away from home is to honor it through my passion of performing, and passing on what I’ve learned and experienced to the next generation of students here at Shenandoah and everywhere I can.
Nicholas Serbu | Jazz Studies, ’18
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Jazz ArrangingFull Biography
Auxiliary Adjunct Associate Professor, Jazz and TrumpetFull Biography
Adjunct Lecturer, Jazz SaxophoneFull Biography
Adjunct Instructor, Jazz GuitarFull Biography
Harrison Endowed Chair in Piano; Associate Professor, Jazz PianoFull Biography
Auxiliary Adjunct Assistant Professor, Music Theory and Jazz PianoFull Biography
Mark G. Meadows
Adjunct Assistant Professor, JazzFull Biography
Adjunct Associate Professor, Classical and Jazz TromboneFull Biography
Director and Associate Professor, Music Production and Recording TechnologyFull Biography
Coordinator of Strings; Professor, BassFull Biography
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Jazz GuitarFull Biography
Adjunct Associate Professor, Jazz PercussionFull Biography
Application and Audition Information
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically.
Submit your application, review required admissions materials, and find our admissions standards.
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Acceptable Instruments for This Program
Not all majors are suitable to fit every instrument. Below are the acceptable instruments for this program.
- Double Bass ( jazz)
- Electric Bass (jazz)
- Electric Guitar (jazz)
- Percussion (jazz)
- Piano (jazz)
- Saxophone (jazz)
- Trombone ( jazz)
- Trumpet (jazz)
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, you will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
Accelerated PALM Program
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century.
The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.