Jazz StudiesMusicians with jazz skills are much in demand for work ranging from entertaining at social functions to TV soundtracks to the international jazz concert and festival circuit. Trained jazz musicians read and write music and most importantly, improvise, which means they have the ability to create music in the moment.
Student musicians typically phase into professional work while still in our diploma or degree programmes, and the existence of the unique Centre for Jazz and Popular Music guarantees there will be performance opportunities for those who are ready. Since the late 80s, UND jazz students have regularly attended and performed at the International Association of Jazz Educators Conference in the USA, toured overseas and made professional recordings. In 1998 alone, visitors from America, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and Switzerland performed and gave workshops here. Former students include Feya Faku, Lulu Gonstsana, Victor Masondo, Johnny Mekoa, Zim Ngqawana, Concord Nkabinde, Melvin Peters, Bongani Sokhela, and many other active, full-time musicians and teachers.
Musical traditions of Africa, Europe, North and South America and even Asia blend into jazz; it is truly a `World Music’. For this reason the diversified, four- year B. Mus. curriculum is highly recommended, and for those wishing to continue even further there is the M. Mus. in Jazz Performance and Composition. (UND is among the relatively few universities world-wide offering this postgraduate specialisation.)
The three-year University Diploma in Music Performance is accessible by audition to students wishing to focus on performance in African Music and Dance, Classical Music or Jazz. The Diploma is basically designed for talented students who wish to concentrate on performance without having to take a full academic course load.
Historically, the Diploma in Music Performance was meant to give aspiring musicians, many of whom lacked the academic requirements to attend university, a chance to train as professional musicians, but over time it has become an access route to the B.Mus. (or even other degrees in the university).
The four-year BMus degree also includes a specialisation in Jazz Performance. The degree is a comprehensive musicianship programme which includes general courses in Music Theory and Perception and Music, Culture and History, as well as practical study in Jazz Performance, the experience of playing jazz in ensembles, and the study of jazz and commericial arranging, and — if you wish — more advanced work in jazz composition and arranging.
Students in both programmes (degree and diploma) receive individual tuition on their instruments. Jazz students study standard repertoire and the technique of improvisation in group classes constituted like jazz bands and normally join the NU Jazz Ensemble (big-band) or NU Voices (jazz choir).
Visiting jazz musicians, weekly jazz at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, a great jazz collection in the Music Library, expert instruction, and opportunities to perform and develop professional contacts make this an ideal place to enter the jazz performance field.