Jazz Studies

Students interested in jazz may take advantage of our instrumental jazz performance studies program as part of the Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. The jazz concentration is comprehensive and includes courses specific to the jazz idiom in history, theory, arranging, improvisation, performing, and pedagogy. Our jazz majors and faculty are active in the Metro Atlanta and the southeast region jazz scene and mix university experience with real-world performing opportunities and training. The KSU Jazz Ensembles and Jazz Combos develop general jazz performance and improvisational skills, giving students the flexibility to meet the varying demands of today’s musical world. Recent performances have included programs of Brazilian and Latin jazz, swing concerts, music from musical theatre, jazz rock, and retrospectives of such composers as Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Count Basie, and others. KSU Jazz Ensembles and Combos have performed at the Jazz Education Network conference, the Georgia Music Educators Association in-service conference, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, the International Festival of University Theatre of Casablanca, as well as performances in Montepulciano, Italy.


jazz band practice


Notable graduates include:

  • Patrick Arthur: Nationwide freelance guitarist
  • Robert Boone: Drummer, Count Basie Orchestra
  • Zac Evans: Saxophonist & Band Leader, The Rebel Big Band and Monkier
  • Neil Newcomb: Saxophonist and President, Atlanta Pro Winds
  • Chris Otts: Saxophonist and the first NEA Future Jazzmaster
  • Brian Reid: Collaborative Pianist in Jazz, Kennesaw State University
  • Luke Weathington: Artist in Residence in Saxophone, Kennesaw State University
  • Brandon Boone: Bassist, Tedeschi/Trucks Band
  • Michael DeSousa: Trombonist, Glenn Miller Orchestra
  • Jana Graham: Broadway percussionist, West Side Story and
  • Sweet Charity
  • Stacey Novik: Freelance trumpeter,  Colorado
  • Jonathan Pace: Drummer, Glenn Miller Orchestra
  • Noah Vece: Nationwide freelance reed player, Vandoren Inc.
  • Devin Witt: Freelance trombonist, Atlanta



    • Jazz bass students receive instruction in a broad range of skills and concepts relevant to the contemporary jazz bass player. Instruction focuses on double bass technique, basic bow skills, solo and bass line improvisation, transcription, and various jazz and world music rhythmic concepts. Bass guitar is also taught, as necessary, to better support the student’s growth as a versatile professional musician.
    • Marc Miller, Artist in Residence in Jazz Bass
    • For more information,
    • The jazz set studio is focused on the areas of stick and brush techniques, snare drum performance, four-way coordination, and stylistic authenticity. Students will learn the tradition of drum performance through the rudiments, classic drum set texts, and transcription of drummers in jazz and other popular American music, as well as folkloric rhythms from across the world.
    • Justin Chesarek, Artist in Residence in Drumset
    • For more information, E-mail
    • Jazz Guitar students in the Bailey School of Music study a wide range of guitar techniques Including chord comping, improvisation, jazz standard repertoire, neck knowledge, sight reading, and arranging chord melody and guitar ensemble pieces.  In collaboration with the classical guitar studio, students also study fingerstyle techniques and their application to solo jazz guitar performance. 
      Trey Wright, Senior Lecturer in Jazz Guitar/Jazz Combos

    • Sean Thrower, Artist in Residence in Classical & Jazz Guitar

    • For more information, email Professor Wright

    • The jazz piano studio at Kennesaw State University offers a rigorous yet rewarding curriculum.  This curriculum includes harmonic content analysis, genre specific voicing instruction, improvisation, transcription study, jazz composition, and sight-reading. Additionally, jazz piano students learn proper hand technique, fingerings, scales, and fundamental repertoire.
    • Tyrone Jackson, Lecturer in Jazz Piano/Aural Skills
    • For more information, contact Professor Jackson E-mail
    • Saxophone students receive instruction in all aspects of saxophone performance. This includes classical study for mastery of the instrument, jazz styles and articulation, transcriptions, and improvisation.

    • Sam Skelton, Director of Jazz Studies and Senior Lecturer in Saxophone

    • Luke Weathington, Artist in Residence in Saxophone


    • For more information, contact Professor Skelton

    • The Kennesaw State University Jazz trombone studio focuses first on the understanding and fundamentals of both music and trombone.  The program also includes understanding of jazz phrasing and style, articulations, range development, improvisation, and sight reading.
    • Wes Funderburk, Artist in Residence in Jazz Trombone/Jazz Ensemble II
    • For more information E-mail
    • The Kennesaw State University Jazz trumpet studio focuses first on the understanding and fundamentals of both music and trumpet.  The program also includes understanding of jazz phrasing and style, articulations, range development, improvisation, and sight reading.
    • Rob Opitz, Artist in Residence in Jazz Trumpet/Jazz Ensemble III
    • For more information E-mail
    • Through instruction in vocal improvisation, song interpretation, jazz styles and theory, repertoire development, live performance, vocal health and musical collaboration, students in the Vocal Jazz studio explore and develop skills essential to singing in an authentic jazz style.  
    • Karla Harris, Artist in Residence in Vocal Jazz
    • For more information E-mail
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