Prescreening recordings are required of all Jazz applicants and should consist of two uninterrupted, unedited performances, following the requirements outlined below. The recording should be no longer than seven minutes in length and must be submitted as part of our online application, due December 1. Performances with prerecorded accompaniment, including studio overdubs, are not permitted. If it is not possible to record yourself playing with a full rhythm section (piano/guitar, bass and drums), come as close as you can to that form of accompaniment. After review of the application, supporting documents, and prescreening recording, qualified applicants will be invited for a live audition. Please refer to the recording guidelines section of our general Audition Requirements page for information about uploading your prescreening files as part of your online application.
Applicants are expected to exhibit a high degree of proficiency on the major instrument as well as an understanding of basic jazz improvisation concepts. We welcome applications from vocalists and players of any instrument.
Jazz Instrumental prescreening recordings
- Choose one of the following pieces: Hot House (Tadd Dameron), Confirmation (Charlie Parker), Donna Lee (Charlie Parker/Miles Davis), Anthropology (Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker), Groovin’ High (Dizzy Gillespie), Ornithology (Charlie Parker/Benny Harris), Moose the Mooche (Charlie Parker), or Four in One (Thelonious Monk). Play the melody, unaccompanied and without improvising, once through at a medium swing tempo without the aid of a metronome or click track. Be sure to demonstrate your sound, rhythmic precision, swing feel, and technical facility. Drummers should communicate the rhythm and pitch contour of the melody as clearly as possible. Pianists may play the melody in octaves or as a single line (without chordal accompaniment).
- Perform one additional piece of your choice with live rhythm section. The additional piece should demonstrate your improvisational ability.
Jazz Voice prescreening recordings
- An unaccompanied performance of the melody of any jazz standard (not a twelve-bar blues) in a medium swing tempo. The melody should be performed without the aid of a metronome, click track, or other accompaniment. Sing one chorus of the melody only. Songs with lyrics should be sung in English; instrumental compositions may be sung using scat syllables. You are welcome to add your own melodic and rhythmic interpretation to the song.
- Perform one piece of your choice with live rhythm section.
- Optional (and encouraged for graduate applicants): Perform one of the following pieces: Hot House (Tadd Dameron), Confirmation (Charlie Parker), Donna Lee (Charlie Parker/Miles Davis), Anthropology (Dizzy Gillespie/Charlie Parker), Groovin’ High (Dizzy Gillespie), Ornithology (Charlie Parker/Benny Harris), Moose the Mooche (Charlie Parker), or Four in One (Thelonious Monk). Scat the melody, unaccompanied, once through at a medium swing tempo without the aid of a metronome or click track.
Jazz Performance Live Auditions
Live auditions are required of all Jazz applicants residing in North America. Applicants should be prepared to perform from memory and improvise on the following:
- Two jazz standards, contrasting in tempo
- One additional piece of your choice
Pieces performed for the live audition should differ from those included on the prescreening recording. A rhythm section including piano, bass, and drums will be provided for live auditions. Applicants must provide 3 lead sheets for the musicians. You will also be asked to identify chords, sing and play back melodic phrases, and sight-read.
Final Recorded Auditions (video only)
Applicants residing outside of North America who are not applying to the DMA or Harvard/NEC dual degree programs may be considered for admission based on the submission of a final recorded audition. Given the competitive nature of our programs, applicants are strongly encouraged to present a live audition at NEC. Applicants must still submit a prescreening as a part of the online application. If you pass the prescreening round, you will be invited to submit a final video audition recording in January.
Repertoire requirements for the final video audition recording are:
- Two jazz standards, contrasting in tempo
- Two additional pieces, contrasting in tempo, of your choice
Pieces performed should differ from those included on the prescreening recording. A live rhythm section should be used for the recorded audition. Final audition video recordings are due by February 1, but all other application and supporting materials, including prescreening, are due by December 1. No recording will be reviewed without a completed application.
Applicants should submit their portfolio and accompanying recordings as a part of their online application. Portfolio scores can be uploaded in the form of PDF files. Recordings may be uploaded in several file formats.
Submit three or four scores, with accompanying audio recording if possible. While original compositions are preferred, one arrangement or recomposition may be included. In addition, applicants to the Jazz Composition major should submit a prescreening recording following the Jazz Performance guidelines above.
After review, qualified jazz composition applicants residing in North America are required to attend an live interview/audition at NEC. In addition to reviewing scores and discussing goals for future study, jazz composition applicants should be prepared to play from memory and improvise on one jazz standard or original composition. The piece performed at the live audition should differ from those included on the prescreening recording. A rhythm section including piano, bass, and drums will be provided for live auditions. Applicants should supply 3 lead sheets for the musicians, and will be asked to identify chords, to sing and play back melodic phrases, and to sight-read.