The Bertram and Judith Kohl Building, the LEED Gold-certified home of jazz at Oberlin.
The conservatory incorporated jazz into its curriculum in 1973, and began offering a major in jazz studies in 1989. The program prepares students for careers as professional jazz musicians and for advanced study in jazz.
The jazz studies faculty includes composers and performers who maintain active jazz careers in addition to teaching lessons and classes and coaching ensembles. Oberlin's Jazz Faculty Octet was featured at the 1991 and 1996 International Association of Jazz Educators conferences held in Washington, D.C., and at the 1996 conference in Atlanta.
Learn more about the Kohl building — take a virtual tour:
Evan Levine '14 works with bassist Rufus Reid at a masterclass in March 2012.
- Jazz Performance Major. During the first two years of study, jazz performance majors study concurrently with the jazz and the classical applied faculty. This dual approach provides a firm foundation, allows students to build on centuries of musical knowledge of their instruments, and exposes them to teaching methods and resources of different faculty members. During the third and fourth years, students concentrate on study with a specialist in the jazz idiom. Jazz performance majors participate in ensembles during all four years, and they perform in recitals during their junior and senior years. The following instruments are offered as principal private study areas: saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, percussion, and double bass.
- Jazz Composition Major. Students admitted as jazz composition majors normally begin the sequence of courses in private composition in their first year of study, and they are expected to explore a variety of styles and idioms. Jazz composition study culminates with the public presentation of original works for jazz ensembles of various sizes.
All majors complete courses in music theory and music history, as well as liberal arts courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. Jazz studies courses cover a wide range of topics, including jazz aural skills, jazz keyboard, jazz theory, basic arranging and composing techniques, improvisation, and the history of jazz. Majors also complete requirements in aural skills, sight singing, and piano proficiency.