Jazz Arranging Proficiency Exams

Jazz Arranging Proficiency Examinations

Three examinations are required in Jazz Arranging for a student to move to a higher level or to present a recital. All three exams are offered during Finals Week (long semesters only) and in the week before the beginning of fall semester. Signup lists are posted outside MU339 in advance of these exams.

The Jazz Arranging Continuation Exam is required for entry into either MUJS 4610 (Jazz Arranging III) or into MUJS 5760 (Graduate Jazz Arranging). Note: In addition to passing the ACE, the student planning to enroll in MUJS 5760 must also pass the Improvisation Continuation Exam (ICE) - speak with Professor Steinel in that regard.

The Jazz Arranging Proficiency Exam is prerequisite to the Senior Jazz Arranging Recital.

The Graduate Arranging Proficiency Exam is the prerequisite to pursuing a Graduate Jazz Composition Recital.

The Arranging Continuation Exam has three parts:

1. A written exam measures the applicant's understanding of jazz harmony, jazz voicings and terminology, as well as the applicant's ability to score two short exercises – one for saxes and one for brass section, all according to UNT Jazz Arranging guidelines. (The grade of "A" in both MUJS 3610 and MUJS 3620 exempts this portion of the ACE.)

2. A keyboard exam will measure the effective use of piano voicings found in the document "Arranger's Piano," described online. The applicant will be given a lead sheet with eight bars of chord symbols, to be played (in or out of tempo) with voicings described in the above document. (Accuracy is measured, not comp'ing.) OR, the student may perform from memory "Stella by Starlight" as a ballad or in a faster tempo.

3. Following the keyboard exam, the third segment is experiential, focusing on scores and live recordings of two recent jazz arrangements, one for small ensemble, one for large ensemble (big band). Scores must be complete and accurate, printed in computer notation, and containing effective, idiomatic treatment of the two ensembles represented.

Before attempting the ACE, you may access study guides online:

ACE Review 1 - Harmonizing Devices
ACE Review 2 - Melodic Developers
ACE Review 3 - Saxes and Density
ACE Review 4 - Scoring Brass
ACE Review 5 - Arrangers Piano

II. The Arranging Proficiency Exam must be passed before a student may participate in or schedule a Senior Jazz Arranging Recital. The exam is adjudicated by three members of the jazz faculty on a pass/fail basis, and must take place before the week of final exams in the semester preceding the proposed recital. Two recent scores for large jazz ensemble and one for smaller ensemble must be submitted that clearly demonstrate the writer's ability to compose and arrange both musically and accurately in the jazz style. Scores and parts must be submitted along with the CD; the scores must be printed double-sided, and spiral bound. Scores must be accompanied by high quality live recordings submitted on CD, formatted to play on an ordinary player. Individual parts must be those read in performance.

It is recommended that this exam take place at the end of the semester the student is enrolled in MUJS 4610. All material submitted must be written and performed at this University. If unsuccessful, the student may resubmit once for reconsideration with new materials, in the week prior to the next long semester.

III. The Graduate Arranging Proficiency Exam "(GAPE)" must be passed before a student is allowed to present a Graduate Jazz Composition Recital. The exam is adjudicated by three members of the jazz faculty on a pass/fail basis, and must take place at the end of the semester that precedes the graduate recital.

Four scores must be submitted, completed within a two-year period, that clearly demonstrate the ability to compose music idiomatically for both large and small jazz ensembles. The scores must reveal successful pursuit of melodic and harmonic techniques, jazz orchestration and notation according to North Texas standards. Additionally, the music must clearly demonstrate proficiency beyond undergraduate study.

Of the four scores, two must be for large ensemble (one ballad, one with tempo), one for small group, one for yet a different ensemble. The compositions must be recorded in live performance, with high quality recordings submitted on one CD which has been formatted to play on an ordinary player. Scores must be printed double-sided, transposed, and grouped together in a spiral binder with an appropriate header.

Note: University policy prohibits testing out of a course which has already been taken for credit.