Jazz Studies & Commercial Music

Jazz students in rehearsal

The Jazz Studies Program at CSUF offers students a chance to prepare themselves for the world of professional performance and composing/arranging opportunities in the Southern California region and throughout the nation. The Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in Jazz and Commercial Studies prepares students for this vibrant field.

Ensembles include the Fullerton Jazz Orchestra, Fullerton Big Band & Latin Ensemble, Jazz Small Groups (combos), and the Jazz Singers. From participation in these groups, students are prepared to take their place in the jazz and commercial performing opportunities available in the region.

The Jazz Ensembles and Combos are active in performing a wide variety of styles; from cutting edge contemporary styles of Maria Schneider and Jim McNeely to the classics of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. They perform concerts on campus and at top local, regional and international jazz festivals. Students may also audition for any of the jazz combos. The CSUF jazz groups have been selected as the winning ensembles & combos at the Reno Jazz Festival, Fullerton College Jazz Festival and the Pacific Coast Jazz Festival.

The Jazz Singers performs music that encompasses a wide variety of contemporary and historical jazz styles. In Jazz Singers an emphasis is placed on solo improvisation.


Bill Cunliffe - jazz piano; arranging; Fullerton Big Band and combo director

Eric Dries
* - improvisation

Jeff Ellwood* - saxophone (website)

Ron Escheté* - guitar (website)

TK Gardner* - guitar

Luther Hughes* - bass (website)

Paul Kreibich* - drum set (website)

J. Michael O’Neal* - jazz piano (website)

Kye Palmer* - jazz trumpet

Andreas Preponis* - vocal jazz director

Charles Sharp* - jazz history (website)

Francisco Torres* - latin jazz, trombone (website)

Damon Zick* - saxophone (website)

* denotes part-time faculty 

Degree Programs
Bachelor of Music: Instrumental Performance and Jazz and Commercial Music
Bachelor of Arts in Music: Liberal Arts & Music Education
Master of Music: Performance
Master of Arts in Music
Minor in Music
Artist Diploma (non-degree)

Master of Music audition information

All students wishing to study jazz at Cal State Fullerton must audition. Both scholarship and regular auditions for incoming students are scheduled in the spring of each year. Students who hope to begin study in a spring semester may make special arrangements for an audition through the area coordinator. If your main instrument falls under the category of jazz or commercial music, you need to audition for the jazz faculty.   Certain instruments require that you also audition for the classical faculty as well.


Bill Cunliffe • (657) 278-8236

Repertoire and Other Audition Information Music—Undergraduate

Repertoire Requirements  Your audition will cover sight reading and this instrument-specific material:


  1. All major, natural minor, and harmonic minor scales (other scales optional).

  2. Play the melody, comp (both hands), and solo (while comping) to one of the following tunes: Doxy, Au Privave, Mr. P.C., or Solar.

  3. Solo or etude that demonstrates technique — classical or jazz.

Guitar (electric) and bass playersYou will only need to audition for the jazz faculty.  HOWEVER, you will also need to submit a pre-screening video before you can audition in person for the jazz faculty. Instructions on the pre-screening process will be sent to you via  email after you indicate your primary instrument. Additionally:

Guitar (electric)

  1. All major scales (other scales optional).
  2. Play the melody, comp, and solo to to one of the following tunes: Doxy, Au Privave, Mr. P.C., or Solar.
  3. Solo or etude that demonstrates technique, jazz or classical. Note: Amplifiers are provided (bring a 1/4” cable).

Bass (bring acoustic and electric if you play both)

  1. All major scales (other scales optional).
  2. Play the melody, play a walking bass line, play a bass line in a rock and latin style, solo, and solo to one of the following tunes: Doxy, Au Privave, Mr. P.C., or Solar.
  3. Solo or etude that demonstrates technique, jazz or classical. Note: Amplifiers are provided (bring a 1/4” cable).


Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone

You will need to sign up for a classical audition as well as a jazz audition.  This pertains to all jazz saxophone, jazz trumpet, and jazz trombone players.

  1. Two contrasting movements from the standard solo repertory or one movement from a concerto and a standard etude.
    - Accompaniment is not required.
    - Excerpts from school band or orchestra repertoire will not be accepted.

  2. All major scales and
    - Chromatic scale (at least two octaves)
    - Blues or pentatonic scales.
    - Optional: any form(s) of minor scales (including dorian mode)

  3. Perform the melody and improvise over the chord changes from one of the following tunes: Doxy, Au Privave, Mr. P.C., or Solar.

Drum Set/Percussion:

You will need to audition for the classical percussion faculty as well as for the jazz faculty.  HOWEVER , you will need to submit a pre-screening video to the jazz faculty before you can sign up for a live audition.  Instructions on the pre-screening process will be sent to you via email after you indicate your primary instrument.

1    Demonstrate time in varying tempos of swing, latin, funk/rock, shuffle, etc. (brushes and sticks). You might play with play-a-long recordings or live musicians.

2    Trade 4's, 8's and/or choruses in a style listed above.

3    Approximate a jazz or standard tune (your choice) on the drums. 

Also demonstrate ability on mallets:

1    Marimba solo from the standard marimba repertoire, studies, or jazz vibes.

2    Major scales—one octave through 4 flats and 4 sharps

3    Snare Drum Solo from the standard snare drum repertoire or studies.

  1. Audition length  10 minutes. Sign up instructions
  2. Audition location  Clayes Performing Arts Center, East Lobby. See directions below. 
  3. Parents meeting  Each audition day includes an informational meeting for parents. This is normally held at 12:00pm in CPAC 257. Look for confirmation of this time and room in an email you will receive before the audition weekend. 
  4. Your university admission  Sign up for and complete your audition regardless of the status of your university application and admission. Even if you have been denied admission to the university, the School of Music may advocate that you be granted admission based on your musical talent.
  5. Directions and parking  When you arrive at the CSUF campus PDF File Opens in new window , park in the Nutwood Parking Structure (NPS) (at Nutwood Ave. and State College Blvd.), using either entrance 3 or 4. Parking is free. Walk toward the elevators and out onto the performing arts walk, and you will see signs directing you to the East Lobby of the Clayes Performing Arts Center (CPAC). CSUF music majors will be awaiting your arrival in the East Lobby outside our Recital Hall, and are there to assist you throughout the day.

More information  
Chuck Tumlinson • (657) 278-5523
Bill Cunliffe • (657) 278-8236

Master of Music in Performance
Audition Requirements and Other Essentials

The Master of Music in Performance is an applied-based degree requiring 30 units of study in private lessons, large and small jazz ensembles, music history and literature, and music theory. The Cal State Fullerton School of Music faculty includes nationally and internationally recognized performers, scholars and composers. Students thrive in an environment that sustains challenging, vital music- making, with due regard for specialized individual attention. For those intending to pursue doctoral studies, the Master of Music degree normally leads to the DMA.

Audition Requirements

Entrance Auditions and Scholarship Auditions for the MM degree are held in February (for Fall semester entrance). Auditions also may be scheduled each semester (Fall and Spring) during Registration Week, just prior to the start of the semester, however, this is unlikely to include scholarship consideration. Under certain circumstances, a video recorded audition may be used for a preliminary assessment; however, a live audition is always required.

From memory, prepare melody, improvisation and rhythm section composing/bass lines (if applicable) to four tunes within the following parameters:

  1. Modal
  2. Ballad
  3. Advanced ii-V-I oriented chord progression
  4. Your choice (should reflect a contrast in jazz stylistic periods from the above)

In addition to this, the student should prepare an etude, or solo transcription that displays a high degree of technical skills. The student should also provide, and be prepared to play from, a list of memorized jazz tunes.

Letters of Recommendation
Arrange to have letters of recommendation from three music professionals familiar with your preparation for graduate study sent to the School of Music graduate program adviser.

Entrance Exams
After being admitted, all entering graduate students take entrance exams in music history and music theory. The exams cover undergraduate level material and are given Thursday before the first week of classes.

More Information 
University Catalogue Opens in new window
Audition Dates
Submission of Supporting Materials

Contact Information 
School of Music Graduate Program Advisor Dr. John Koegel (657) 278-7658
Jazz Area Coordinator Professor Bill Cunliffe (657) 278-8236

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Last Published 11/26/18

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