The Oberlin Conservatory's first courses in jazz studies were taught by Wendell Logan, the late founder and director of the Jazz Studies Department, in 1973. In 1989, the Oberlin Conservatory established the Jazz Studies Department and majors, which prepare students for professional careers and advanced study in jazz.
The Oberlin Conservatory is home to jazz faculty that helped to build the the jazz tradition and is on the vanguard of contemporary jazz; it also hosts equally influential visiting artists on a regular basis — a list of just a few of our officially sponsored visitors since 2011 includes Herbie Hancock, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Nicholas Payton, Dave Liebman, Rufus Reid, Esperanza Spalding, John Hollenbeck, Cyro Baptista, Leo Blanco, and Daphnes Prieto.
What opportunities does the Oberlin Conservatory offer to its jazz students?
You'll work with legendary visiting artists and faculty. See our About the Faculty page for information on our professors. For information on upcoming visiting artists, please see the Conservatory's homepage, or Oberlin's Artist Recital Series online.
You'll have the opportunity to organize on-campus performances and masterclasses with artists like Ambrose Akinmusire, Steve Lehman, and Stephen "Thundercat" Bruner, via student production organizations such as the Oberlin Jazz Society and the Oberlin College Black Musicians' Guild.
For Prospective Students
- Programs of Study:
- Jazz Performance majors study with jazz and classical applied faculty, with a specialist in the jazz idiom, participate in ensembles during all four years, and perform in recitals during their junior and senior years. Saxophone, trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, percussion, and double bass are offered as areas of principal private study.
- Jazz Composition majors study private composition beginning in their first year, are expected to explore a variety of styles and idioms, and have the opportunity to compose for a variety of ensembles, from student quartets to the jazz department's big band.
- On-campus auditions for the jazz studies program are traditionally held in December, February, and March of the year preceding enrollment, and require a screening recording. Recorded auditions are also accepted.
- View our photo galleries of jazz at Oberlin.
- Find out more about the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building — take a virtual tour (below); read coverage from JazzTimes, Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, Channel5 News, and NPR afilliate WKSU; and view photos and additional press at the Kohl website.
- Watch our student ensembles.