The strength of Eastman’s Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media degree program lies in the hard work expected of each student in every aspect of study, coupled with the individual attention received from faculty. The sheer scope of material covered in the curriculum sustains the discipline level, while the faculty members as mentors provide personal encouragement as the coach the necessary skills.
Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media
About Our Program
The Eastman School of Music Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media Department
is committed to:
- Preparing today’s most talented jazz students for their future roles in public performance, media, and education;
- Providing a comprehensive jazz curriculum spanning the great traditions of the past to the the cutting edge developments of the present;
- Guiding each student toward the discovery of his or her artistic voice as a performer, composer, arranger, and/or teacher;
- Serving local, national, and international educational constituencies and their audiences with world-class performances of jazz and contemporary media music.
Eastman’s JCM students have the opportunity to obtain the most comprehensive education in jazz available today. The Eastman JCM curriculum has been designed and modified over the years to enable all students — both performance and writing skills majors — to become professional-caliber musicians who are comfortable within the large sphere of jazz-based musical styles, and who are capable of creating their own strong voice in any musical setting. The faculty believes that the way to accomplish this is to expose students to the classical and jazz traditions, with emphasis on the repertoire and disciplines associated with the learning of improvisation skills.
Jazz Performance Studies
A JCM major is designed for students seeking careers in jazz studies and contemporary media music performance, composition/arranging, and higher education. JCM majors may elect an emphasis in performance or writing skills. As a part of their coursework JCM majors will participate in small combos and large jazz ensembles. They also study jazz history, classical theory and jazz theory at Eastman. Jazz majors have weekly hour-long lessons with resident jazz faculty members throughout the duration of their degree program.
Eastman’s core JCM faculty is in residence and works with students on a daily basis. This day-to-day instruction is augmented by frequent master classes and guest appearances by top international artists. JCM Performance Workshops provide the ideal environment in which students hone these skills and participate fully in the jazz education experience. The Workshops supply the curriculum with a cutting-edge course of contemporary performance and preparation for recording. By combining the experiences of small ensembles, improvisation studies, writing skills, theoretical work, and aural training into an intense and focused ongoing workshop atmosphere, the study of jazz is approached from a holistic point of view.
Jazz Writing Skills
The Eastman School of Music’s Jazz Writing Skills program has been internationally recognized since the early 1970s. For almost two decades, Professors Rayburn Wright and Bill Dobbins forged the jazz composition and arranging courses and guided numerous students toward prominent writing careers. Prior to the return of Bill Dobbins in 2002, Eastman alumnus Fred Sturm, a protégé of both Wright and Dobbins, assumed the reins of the writing program in 1991 and fostered the development of almost 200 new student jazz works and several award-winning writers.
Today, Eastman’s M.M. jazz writing skills majors engage in a broad range of composing and arranging experiences that include:
- Personal production of a media project featuring the student’s own works
- Presentation of a 60-minute final degree recital featuring the student’s works
- Writing for the Eastman large jazz ensembles
- Writing for the 70-piece Eastman Studio Orchestra
- Writing for the Eastman Jazz Performance Workshop Ensembles (small groups)
- Creating custom charts to feature visiting professional jazz guest artists
Eastman’s Jazz ensembles are led by the esteemed Jazz faculty, and include opportunities to rehearse and perform with important guest artists and conductors. Guests have included Ron Carter, Gene Bertoncini, Nabáte Isles, Allen Vizzuti, Danilo Pérez, Maria Schneider, Marian McPartland, Tom Christensen, Scott Robinson, Bobby Floyd, Alexa Tarantino, Dave Glasser, Bob Brookmeyer, Arturo Sandoval, Lorraine Desmarais, Clark Terry, Vijay Iyer, Jason Moran, and more.
Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media
The Beal Institute for Film Music and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School of Music provides students with instruction and experiences that prepare them for the increasingly evolving opportunities to write, produce, and perform music for film and contemporary media. Founded in 2016 by Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal (BM85) and vocalist Joan Beal (BM84), and under the direction of Mark Watters, Emmy Award winning composer and conductor, the program builds on the film legacy of the School’s founder, George Eastman.
Jazz Writing Skills
Jazz Writing Skills
Contemporary Media & Film Composition
When Eastman first offered jazz courses in the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of a jazz department in a major music school was still revolutionary. More than a half century later, Eastman is a leader is offering a comprehensive jazz education, We have produced legendary faculty members, and alumni whose playing and composing move the art forward with original, award-winning music. Now in addition to our jazz performing and writing degrees, we offer master’s degrees in contemporary media and film composition. Explore our many course offerings and you’ll see that after an Eastman education you will be prepared for your place at the forefront of the music industry!
Programs and Multimedia
The Jazz Radio Show
Musicians at the Eastman School of Music are committed to furthering their local and extended communities through jazz music. One way this is happening is through the incredible Eastman Radio Show.
When to Listen
Behind the Curtain
Herb Smith – Host & Co-producer
Dave Rivello – Producer
Lou Chitty – Audio Engineer & Co-producer
Max Greenberg – Script-editor & Curator
Video of Jazz Performances
Nothing speaks of the talent at Eastman than seeing the artists doing their thing. Here you will find some great performances of our students, teacher and visiting artists.
Audio of Jazz Performances
Hear various audio versions of past performances and works from Eastman students and faculty here.