LESSON 2


The Drum Kit Audition Requirements for the Jazz Studies Program at The Sydney Conservatorium

I'm often asked about the audition requirements for entry into the Sydney Conservatorium of Music Jazz Studies program. So here is a brief description of the audition. I've divided it into sections so you can isolate any weaknesses.


(1) JAZZ STANDARD

SETTING:

The applicant will choose a Jazz Standard from the list of 10 songs below and perform it in a trio setting (with bass and either piano or guitar).

Song List for Jazz Audition

  • AUTUMN LEAVES (KOSMA/MERCER)
  • ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (JEROME KERN)
  • STELLA BY STARLIGHT (VICTOR YOUNG)
  • BLUE BOSSA (KENNY DORHAM)
  • I LOVE YOU (COLE PORTER)
  • ON GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (B. KAPER)
  • TAKE THE A TRAIN (DUKE ELLINGTON)
  • IN A MELLOW TONE (DUKE ELLINGTON)
  • IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (J VAN HEUSEN)
  • ALL OF ME (SIMONS/MARKS)
  • SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME (FRANK CHURCHILL)
  • WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE (COLE PORTER)
  • CORCAVADO (A.C. JOBIM)
  • HOW INSENSITIVE (A.C. JOBIM)

    FORMAT:

  • One chorus of trio playing the melody.
  • One chorus of piano or guitar solo (with bass and drums accompanying).
  • One chorus drum solo over the form of the tune.
  • There is no need to play the melody again at the end of the tune.

    NOTE:

  • The tempo of the tune is to be set by the applicant.

    ASSESSED ON:

  • Accompanying skills.
  • Good time and feel.
  • An ability to solo in a style appropriate to the chosen tune.

    TIPS:

  • Passing auditions and playing good music are not necessarily the same thing, so you should choose songs and play in a way that blatantly demonstrates both your abilities and your knowledge of the Jazz idiom.
  • Try to pick a tune that demonstrates your ability to play good, swinging time as well as your knowledge of the form. If you know the song well, for example, you can subtly cue the bridge or the top of a chorus - particularly in songs which do not follow standard 32 bar, AABA forms.
  • You may get a chance to trade ‘fours’ or ‘eights’, which again requires knowledge of the song form, at the same time displaying some of your soloing ability. For example the tune, “All the Things You Are” has an AABC form consisting of two 8 bar A sections, an 8 bar Bridge, (B), and then a 12 bar C section. Now if you are trading eight bars with say the piano, the tune won’t divide evenly, so you need to play an extra four bars to bring the tune to the top of a chorus. If you know the song and sing it in your head as you trade, you should be fine. Don't try to be too clever in your drum solos; remember, they are looking for someone who swings rather than a great soloist so it's better to play simple clear phrases and keep the time steady than a fast impressive lick that is rushed.
  • Picking songs that have different feels in different sections can show off your ability in more than one style. For example, “Green Dolphin Street” can establish your ability to play Latin feels as well as straight ahead Jazz four. Try to get together with some other players who will be auditioning and give each other "mock" auditions.


    (2) 12 BAR BLUES

    SETTING:

    The applicant will perform a 12 bar blues in a trio setting.

    FORMAT:

  • 4 choruses of trio playing followed by 4 choruses of four bar exchanges.
    ie 4 bars of piano, bass and drums, four bars of drums etc.

    NOTE:

  • A specific blues melody is not required.
  • The tempo will be set by the examiner.

    ASSESSED ON:

  • Applicants will be assessed on time feel and stylistic appropriateness


    (3) AURAL TEST

    SETTING:

    The examiner will play intervals and chords on either the piano or guitar and ask the applicant to identify each as he or she plays them.

    FORMAT:

  • 10 intervals up to and including a ninth
  • 10 chords drawn from major, minor, augmented, diminished and dominant chord families.

    NOTE:

  • The applicant should attempt to identify all extensions and alterations as appropriate.

    ASSESSED ON:

  • Applicants will be assessed on the extent to which they can to accurately identify the intervals and chords.

    TIP:

  • Practice interval and chord recognition by having a friend play on a piano to simulate what will happen in the audition. There are Ear Training computer programs available too.


    (4) TECHNICAL EXAMINATION

    SETTING:

    The applicant will be asked to play following rudiments starting slowly then gradually accelerating, then gradually decelerating.

    FORMAT:

  • Single Stroke Roll
  • Double Stroke Roll
  • Parradiddles

    ASSESSED ON:

  • The applicant will be assessed on their level of control, even-handedness, touch and tone production.


    (5) SIGHT READING TEST

    SETTING:

    The applicant will be asked to sight read a short drum chart which will be played with the bass, piano or guitar.

    NOTE:

  • The chart will be in a typical Big Band Style with figures or hits above the stave etc.

    ASSESSED ON:

  • Applicants will be assessed on accuracy, interpretation, dynamics and fluidity.

    TIPS:

    Important things to remember when reading:

  • Dynamics; exaggerate the extremities.
  • Stops; make any stops clean and keep in time through the break.
  • Feel Changes; make clear transitions and set up with a little fill.
  • Figures; try to catch figures but don’t over shadow the band. It’s a trio not a big band
  • Set ups; set ups should be in a trio context too.
  • Try to get as much real reading experience as possible. If you can't get into a Big Band, try some of the many great book/cd packages that deal with reading. Also familiarise yourself with syncopated eighth-note rhythms such as those found on page 37 of Ted Reed's "Syncopation" book.

  • Below is a Drum Chart similar to that which you might be auditioned on.



    (6) GROOVES AND FEELS

    SETTING:

    The applicant will be expected to play the following feels unaccompanied at an appropriate tempo range:

    FORMAT:

  • Bossa Nova (Brush/Stick)
  • Afro Cuban , Mambo
  • Ballad (Brushes)
  • Medium-Up Swing (Brushes)
  • Medium-Up Swing (Sticks)
  • Medium Swing (Sticks)
  • Fast Swing (Sticks)

    ASSESSED ON:

  • Applicant will be assessed on consistency of time and feel, dynamics and the authenticity of the various feels.

    TIP:

  • Remember it's all about making the grooves feel good, not about how fast or how many notes you can play!


    The Jazz Aptitude Test

    The Jazz aptitude test is a general knowledge quiz that lasts for approximately one hour. The subjects covered range from history, (Who played what), Aural, knowledge of harmony etc.

    TIP:

  • If you love Jazz you'll pick up this sort of "Jazz general knowledge" Read album covers and books about Jazz players.

    So good luck. If you would like more information on the auditions, you can contact me at ryto@optushome.com.au or contact the Sydney Conservatorium directly at access_centre@greenway.usyd.edu.au

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