I finished my degree last week. The final step was an oral exam with the following requirements:

  1. a transcription and analysis of one of my improvised solos from my recital
  2. analysis of one of my original compositions
  3. repertoire and text selections for various levels of high school and college jazz performance groups and classes

I wrote about the solo transcription and the composition analysis in the past few posts. I'll go over the repertoire selections today. The requirement was to choose appropriate repertoire and texts for a variety of levels of students. The three jazz professors tend to specialize separately in large ensembles (big bands), small ensembles (combos), and jazz history. Each expects me to speak about how I might approach teaching in those areas.

I had no clue how to select pieces for big band, as I've never played in one, let alone directed my own. Luckily I was directed to the publishing sites Kendor, Hal Leonard, and UNC Jazz Press. These music publishers organize their big band catalogs into grade levels and supply descriptions, samples, and audio excerpts. As I browsed, I leaned toward composers and arrangers I already knew, like Sammy Nestico, Thad Jones, Bob Brookmeyer.

My primary aim in choosing both the big band and combo repertoire was to strike a balance between what everyone is likely to know, what I know that my students likely wouldn't, and what's new to all of us. It's also important to provide a range of challenges, some with a semester's worth of hard work before the payoff and some easier pieces to build confidence with quicker satisfaction.

In choosing history texts, I reviewed what I've found useful in the past, what my professors have repeatedly recommended, and what's favored by the user ratings on Amazon.

Here's the full list:

Large Jazz Ensemble Repertoire

  • High School
    • Beginning
      • "Bottom Line Blues" - Phelps (Kendor - Easy)
      • "Fancy Pants" - Nestico (Kendor - Easy)
    • Intermediate
      • "Absolutely Awesome" - Niehaus (Kendor - Medium)
      • "Sweet Caroline" - Diamond, arr. Stitzel (Hal Leonard - Level 2)
    • Advanced
      • "Blackbird" - Lennon, McCartney, arr. Tomaro (Hal Leonard - Level 4)
      • "Just Wait" - Swindler (UNC Jazz Press - Level 4)
  • College
    • Beginning
      • "All Blues" - Davis, arr. Sweeney (Hal Leonard - Level 2)
      • "In a Mellow Tone" - Ellington, arr. Taylor (Hal Leonard - Level 3)
    • Intermediate
      • "Better Get Hit in Your Soul" - Mingus, arr. Homzy (Hal Leonard - Level 4)
      • "Running of the Bulls" - Beach, Shutack (Kendor - Medium)
    • Advanced
      • "Clydascope" - Norman (UNC Jazz Press - Level 5)
      • "La Fiesta" - Corea, arr. Mossman (Hal Leonard - Level 5+)

Jazz Combo Repertoire (College)

  • Beginning
    • "Billie's Bounce" - Charlie Parker
    • "How High the Moon" - Morgan Lewis, Nancy Hamilton
    • "I Mean You" - Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins
    • "Killer Joe" - Benny Golson
  • Intermediate
    • "Four on Six" - Wes Montgomery
    • "Recordame" - Joe Henderson
    • "Samba de Uma Nota So" - Antonio Carlos Jobim
    • "Seven Steps to Heaven" - Victor Feldman, Miles Davis
  • Advanced
    • "Dreams" - Billy Childs
    • "Three Views of a Secret" - Jaco Pastorius
    • "Tones for Joan's Bones" - Chick Corea
    • "Yes and No" - Wayne Shorter

Jazz History Texts (College)