When you think of jazz, images of smoky cellar bars and names like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday may come to mind. They are among the best-known representatives of the style of music that African American musicians created in New Orleans around 1900. From there it began its triumphal march around the world in the 1920s. In Germany in the 1930s and 40s, the National Socialists banned jazz and swing as so-called “degenerate music”. Nevertheless, the success of the new sound could not be stopped in this country either. After the end of the war, the multi-faceted style of music firmly established itself in the German music scene. Since the 1960s it has been possible to study jazz at music colleges and universities.
The course at a glance
According to Microedu.net, the universities offer courses of study with different emphases : These mainly include instrumental jazz, jazz singing and music education. There is also the possibility of specializing in this musical genre in a teacher training course. The universities offer jazz both as a separate subject and in conjunction with rock and pop music .
When the decision for the right course has been made, the first-year students have to select an artistic major that will henceforth be the focus of their studies. You can choose from instruments such as trumpet, vibraphone or guitar, but also vocals. The piano is prescribed as a second instrument at many universities. In some cases, however, the students are free to choose their minor.
The students receive one-to-one tuition in their major and minor subjects, but also learn to play together in an ensemble or in a big band . Regular public university performances enable students to gain their first stage experience. Theoretical basics shouldn’t be neglected either: In addition to subjects such as music history, music theory and ear training, self-management and contract law are also on the curriculum. In courses with an artistic-pedagogical focus, students also get to know various didactic methods in order to later pass on their musical knowledge to students themselves.
Graduates are free to start their careers directly after completing their bachelor’s degree. Those who have particular artistic aptitude can also gain further qualifications in a master’s degree. Depending on what the university offers, students in the master’s programs have the opportunity to expand their vocal or instrumental skills. Or they set further priorities and deal more intensively with composition, production or with a certain style of jazz. There are also master’s programs with a pedagogical focus. These give bachelor graduates the opportunity to train to become music teachers.
Requirements for applicants
In order to get a place in jazz, applicants must first demonstrate their musical talent. The selection procedures differ from university to university. As a rule, applicants first present their talent on a demo CD in order to receive an invitation to audition if necessary. The universities also check the applicant’s existing knowledge of music theory. Interested parties should have a good command of one or two instruments and have a good background in music theory . With the appropriate artistic qualification, the universities sometimes refrain from issuing a high school diploma.
After studying jazz: career opportunities
Most graduates with an artistic focus aim at a career as a musician. Many work freelance . They appear as soloists or in formations, produce their own CDs and often teach on the side in order to earn money.
Graduates with a pedagogical focus are often employed at music schools or other music institutes or work as independent private music teachers. Teachers who specialize in jazz during their studies usually go to school as music teachers. In addition to their music lessons, they often lead a student big band or a jazz combo.
Further fields of work for university graduates arise in the areas of cultural management or music journalism. The master’s degree also entitles you to do a doctorate and to go into university research and teaching.
Advantages of international experience
The home of jazz is the southern United States . Since the 1950s, artists from Europe have also decisively developed the genre of music. One or more semesters abroad are an opportunity to get to know the American roots and international influences of jazz . During your time at a foreign university you have the opportunity to expand your musical repertoire and to absorb new influences. At the same time you can get in touch with musicians from all over the world . The acquired foreign language skills and intercultural skills also have a positive effect on the personal and professional future.