Jazz ensemble

Jazz Ensemble

Welcome to Jazz at Wheaton! The Conservatory of Music offers a wide variety of jazz performance opportunities aimed at providing practical musical training grounded in the authentic articulation of the jazz language. You need not be a music major to audition for any of our performing groups. Below, you will find audition information as well as program highlights for the upcoming school year.


The Jazz Ensemble rehearses Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7:00 to
 8:30pm in Edman 102. Combo rehearsal times are TBD.

The first gathering for all jazz students will be on Thursday, August
 28th.  Auditions will be held from 7-8pm, followed by a faculty performance.

The first rehearsal for the Wheaton Jazz Ensemble is on Tuesday, September
 2, 2014.  Combos will begin Wednesday, September 3, 2014.  

Jazz Performances at Wheaton

  • October 16 - Fall Jazz Ensemble Concert in Barrows (Dress rehearsal on  Oct 14)
  • March 5 - Jazz Combo Concert in Chatlos TV Studio (Dress rehearsal on  March 4)
  • April 30 - Jazz Ensemble Spring Concert in Edman Chapel (Dress rehearsal  on April 28)


Performing Groups

Wheaton Jazz Ensemble (big band, approx 18 members)

Showcase and Green Mill Combos (5-7 members each)



Jazz Ensemble:

  • 2 Alto Saxophones (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 2 Tenor Saxophones (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 1 Baritone Saxophone (clarinet and flute doubles preferred)
  • 4 Trumpets / 4 Trombones
  • Piano / Guitar / Upright Bass / Drums & Percussion
  • Voice


  • Instrumentation varies based on audition results


Program Highlights

  • Clinics with visiting jazz musicians - Past clinicians included Dr. Ron Carter, trumpeter Marquis Hill, saxophonist Caroline Davis, trumpeter Victor Garcia, and drummer Joel Spencer.
  • Performances with touring jazz musicians - Guest artists have included Dana Hall, Mike Lee & New Tricks and the Luke Gillespie Trio.
  • Trips to hear world-class jazz in Chicago - Jazz outings include trips to the Chicago Jazz Festival, The Jazz Showcase and Symphony Center Jazz concerts.
  • Recording experience at WETN - Combos record annually in spaces such as Wheaton's Shea Studio and the Chicago Recording Company.
  • Collaborative workshops with other Chicago-area jazz ensembles
  • Additional performances at The Stupe and at Chapel


Audition Sign-ups

Please email Katie Ernst to sign up in advance: katieernstjazz@gmail.com


Audition Requirements

Auditions run approximately 5 min and include sight-reading as well as improvisation over 12-bar blues (C, F or Bb). Students are also encouraged to perform a prepared tune or written excerpt. Students will be placed in ensembles based on ability and ensemble needs.  Students do NOT need to re-audition once they have been accepted into the ensemble.

Private Study

Develop your sound and improvisational method through one-on-one study our outstanding roster of private teachers. To enroll in private study, visit the Conservatory office in McAlister Hall (2nd Floor) and send an email to your instructor of choice:

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions before the school year commences. I look forward to meeting you in the fall!

Katie Ernst
Jazz Ensemble Director

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