Jazz Voice Auditions for Admission to a degree program

Please note a screening (preliminary audition video) is required for all applicants. The screening will be submitted directly through the Acceptd application.

See the Vocal Jazz at UNT page for more information about Jazz Voice Studies at UNT.

Steps to apply for admission into our program can be found here: http://music.unt.edu/admissions

Topics covered on this page:


Applicants who complete the audition process to be a Jazz Studies major are automatically under consideration to receive a scholarship. More information on scholarships can be found here: http://music.unt.edu/admissions/scholarships

Undergraduate Audition

For acceptance into the College of Music as a vocal Jazz Studies major, undergraduate students must:
1. Complete the application to the University of North Texas and the application to the College of Music.
2. As part of the College of Music application, upload a video screening recording comprising two jazz song selections of contrasting tempo (one slow, one fast or medium-tempo).  Please sing the first 8 measures of your ballad unaccompanied (a cappella), and only go through the form of the song one time. For your medium or fast song you may include vocal improvisation if you wish, but it's not required. No instrumental solos, please!  See the FAQ section below for more details on the pre-screening recordings.
3. Based on your pre-screening video, you may be invited to perform a live audition. If you receive an invitation to perform a live audition, you should be prepared to do the following:

  • Sing one medium swing tempo song, preferably from the standard jazz repertoire -- see this site for ideas:  https://www.jazzstandards.com/compositions/index.htm  You will either perform this with a backing track of some kind (pre-recorded accompaniment or iRealPro, for example) or you may have live accompaniment if you prefer (audio levels must be thoroughly checked to favor the voice), no more than twice through the form of the song, please! Again, wordless improvisation isn't required, but you may if you wish, just limit it to half a chorus and sing the melody for the remainder of the form so you still end up with only 2 total choruses.
  • Sing one ballad (jazz straight 8th ballad, slow bossa nova, very slow swing feel, etc.), with the first 8 measures of the song performed unaccompanied (a cappella), and one time through the form of the song ONLY
  • Sight read short rhythmic and melodic examples
  • Respond to aural testing (tonal memory, chord tone recognition, etc.)
  • Vocalize through your full vocal range and demonstrate proficient vocal technique
Graduate Auditions and Teaching Assistantships

Information on applying for the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree and its application requirements can be found here.

For acceptance into the College of Music to pursue a Master of Music (MM) degree, applicants must:
1. Complete the application to the University of North Texas and the application to the College of Music.
2. As part of the College of Music application, submit video screening recordings of a live accompanied performance (with accompanying instruments visible) that includes the following selections:
a. A medium or up-tempo swing tune (including one chorus of wordless improvisation)
b. A jazz ballad, with at least 8 measures sung a cappella and rubato
3. Based on your pre-screening video, you may be invited to perform a live virtual audition.

For more information regarding graduate admissions visit the College of Music's graduate admission page

Requirements for live auditions
If you are invited to perform a live audition, then you will be expected to perform the following (using different song selections than you used for your pre-screening recording, since we will have already heard those!).  You will either perform these songs with a backing track of some kind (pre-recorded accompaniment or iRealPro, for example) or you may have live accompaniment if you prefer (pianist will be provided).
1. One swing selection (180 bpm or faster) with one chorus of wordless improvisation (scat singing)
2. One ballad (60 - 80 bpm), once through the form only, please, with the first 8 measures in an a cappella rubato delivery.
3. One song in an alternate jazz style (bossa nova, samba, afro-cuban, funk, etc.)
4. At the piano, play the chord changes with a swing feel for one of the following songs: All of Me, Bye Bye Blackbird, Satin Doll or Take the A Train (Singing while playing is optional but encouraged). Please go through the form no MORE than twice.  Once down is fine if only playing.
5. Sight read several musical examples in different tempi and styles to demonstrate a competent level of sight-reading proficiency.

6. Aural skill evaluation in jazz contexts

Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Fellowships
The vocal jazz area has four positions for graduate students who teach or assist professors in their teaching. Due to the rotating nature of our enrollment, the number of available teaching positions changes from year to year. If you would like to express your interest in being considered for one of those teaching positions, please e-mail Professor Barnes (jennifer.barnes@unt.edu) right away once you’ve been invited to perform a live audition and let her know. Next you will please prepare the following materials:
1. A resume of all music teaching experience
2. Vocal arrangements you've written (if you have any), with recordings if available
3. Recordings of any groups you have directed (audio or video)
4. A brief written statement regarding your background and understanding of vocal pedagogy as it pertains to singing jazz, and the ways that it is similar to or distinct from classical voice pedagogy.
5. A brief written statement related to non-performance-related skills or expertise that you possess, i.e. sound reinforcement, office software, computer music notation, graphic design, social media. 

NOTE: Please put the supporting materials listed above in an online location (Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud-based site) with a document that includes an index and description of the materials. Hard copies (CD, DVD, printed pages) will be not be accepted.

Based on the review of materials, selected applicants will be invited to engage in teaching activities during their live audition weekend to be considered as Teaching Fellows.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About the Application & Audition Process:

What is the deadline for submitting my application?
Preference will be given to applications received by the first Monday in December, but we will continue to receive and review incoming applications until February 1. Since our admission process is highly competitive, it's definitely to your advantage to complete and submit your application as early as possible.

There’s no way I could afford to attend college without a scholarship; can I do anything extra in my application to stand out, or sing extra songs?
No need to do anything “extra”; as was stated above, every applicants is automatically under consideration to receive a scholarship, both for academic and musical merit. Follow this link to read about the affordability of UNT and options that may be helpful as you consider paying for your education: http://music.unt.edu/future-students/paying-college

Someone told me that for my pre-screening recordings, I had to prepare classical songs to sing in addition to jazz songs; is that true?
No! Classical repertoire is not required at any stage of our audition process, since all voice study in this major is done with jazz voice instructors, including in-depth voice technique study.

For my pre-screening recordings, can I just send audio from a live concert?
No. We absolutely require a video recording, and your application may be delayed while we contact you to submit video, so please don’t submit audio recordings!

Can you help advise me on what songs should I sing on the pre-screening video?
No, we don’t give advice on what songs to sing! The requirement is that you have two pieces of contrasting tempo, one slow and one medium to fast, and we would prefer to hear standard jazz song selections, for example: a jazz ballad and a medium swing selection. Again, this link is helpful for many people who are unsure about song choice: jazzstandards.com   You should choose a song you really love, since we’re looking to see your style and your personality in your delivery, which usually happens most naturally on a song that you really enjoy singing and with which you’re very comfortable.

Can I just send the video (or links) directly to Professor Barnes to watch, since I already have a lot of videos uploaded on YouTube?
No! Please follow the directions online WITHIN the College of Music application to upload your videos.

Can I sing with pre-recorded (karaoke) tracks for my pre-screening video or does it have to be a live accompanist?
Yes, you may use pre-recorded tracks for a pre-screening video, and if you do, please try to cut the track (using software like Transcribe or Audacity) to eliminate any long spaces where you DON’T sing, such as where there might be space for an improvised solo.

Can I sing the same songs at the live audition that I sang on the pre-screening video?
No. We ask that you perform different selections at the live audition from the selections you submit on your screening recording, since we've already heard those and are trying to learn more about you in the live audition that we DON'T already know.

Do I need to bring my own accompanist for my live audition?
Our recommendation is that you bring lead sheets for your songs, and we will have an accompanist who can play for you in the audition room. However, if you wish, you may bring an accompanist or digital recorded accompaniment (on phone or other digital player that can be plugged in to an external speaker system).

Do I need to be an great “scatter” to get into your program?
No. Vocal improvisation is part of our curriculum, but is not something that we use to determine admission status. At the live audition, you may either prepare to improvise within one of your songs or we’ll ask you to do so over a 12-bar blues chord progression. If you plan to submit only recorded video for your final audition, improvisation is strongly encouraged.

How much does it cost to attend UNT?
Click here for current year tuition and fee information. Make sure you also read this webpage for even more helpful information as you consider the cost of attending UNT compared to other schools you might be considering.

Can I apply to begin in the second (spring) semester instead of fall?
No. New students may ONLY begin their degree program in the Fall semester (not Spring or Summer) each year, due to the curricular and private lesson assignment flow from one semester to the next.

What kinds of teaching does the Gradate Teaching Assistanships include?
Graduate teaching assistants may teach private lessons, direct or assist in directing one of the four vocal jazz ensembles, assist in classes, including Songwriting, Fundamentals of Jazz Performance, Vocal Arranging, Jazz Improvisation, and others. In addition, there are administrative and sound reinforcement-related tasks that need ongoing support from the teaching assistants.

If I send you links to my YouTube videos, can you please watch them and give me feedback as to whether I would be likely to be admitted to your program?
Due to the number of students who apply to our program each year, we cannot provide evaluations of audition materials outside of the yearly audition process.

How many people apply and how many do you admit?
We usually have approximately 40 - 50 applicants every year for our program (all levels), and we admit an average of 4 - 6 undergraduate and 2 - 3 graduate students each year. Our program is obviously highly competitive for admissions, and we consider many different factors in order to determine whether our program is a good fit for each applicant and whether we can foresee their success in our program.

Do you only accept a certain number of [sopranos], [altos], etc.?
We do not have any kind of a "quota" for admittance on any particular vocal range.

I’ve heard that you have a lot of vocal jazz ensembles at UNT. I’m really a solo jazz singer, and not really interested in singing in vocal groups, so I think your program may not be a good fit for me. Is it true that I have to sing in a vocal group if I’m a jazz voice major, and is that the main way that I get performance opportunities at UNT?
Great question! The jazz voice majors at UNT are being trained to function as soloists in a variety of settings and with a variety of methods. We get asked about this ensemble requirement a lot, so here are the answers that I hope help make it clearer as to what, when and how those settings & methods work:
1. Everyone is enrolled in individual private jazz voice lessons every semester -- 8 semesters. No classical voice lessons are required, as vocal technique is taught in the jazz voice lessons.
2. Students enroll in five semesters of exclusively vocal classes that have solo singing techniques and learning at the core of the content: Fundamentals of Jazz Performance (2 semesters), Vocal Jazz Techniques (2 semesters), and Vocal Jazz Styles (1 semester), prior to the "capstone" recital semester.
3. Starting in the sophomore year, individual vocalists choose and prepare their own material (anything they choose, in consultation with their private teacher) with their own band for a performance each semester in the Friday Vocal Forum (every Friday from 3 - 4:15 p.m.). They may perform with any combination of instrumentalists they'd like (solo self-accompanied, duo, trio, etc., adding a horn section, string quartet, background vocalists --- whatever!).
4. Starting in the junior year, students enroll in Jazz Chamber Music (JCM), which is small combos that get faculty coaching and feedback on material chosen and arranged by students. They work on their music all semester for live performances and also make a studio recording.
5. Most of our students form their own small groups to pursue gigging opportunities off-campus, since gig opportunities are abundant in Denton and the whole greater Dallas area. Some singers pursue opportunities for more money-making things like "casuals" or party bands, while others perform with duos or larger groups at local wine bars or restaurants. Either way, that's a vital aspect of the learning process and is a regular way that our students grow and develop their sound, style, repertoire and gain experience.
6. Lastly, yes, everyone sings also in what's called a "large ensemble" every semester -- one of our four vocal jazz ensembles, which range in size from 4 – 14 singers (and full rhythm sections). So they are not really "large" ensembles by most definitions. There are LOTS of solo opportunities within that ensemble setting, particularly improvisationally. This experience is just one of the many things that our students do to perform as vocalists, but does play a vital role in developing a higher level of musicianship, which is why we require it every semester. Singers who excel in these ensembles are challenged to improve their sight-singing, pitch accuracy, vocal control, stylistic flexibility, improvisation, microphone technique and sound system understanding (everyone participates in learning about the sound gear). In addition, everyone learns how to communicate better with rhythm section players, improve their "we make music TOGETHER" mentality, have performing opportunities, and learn by observing how to lead a group of singers/instrumentalists to work together towards musical goals. For additional questions not addressed here, you may e-mail Professor Barnes at Jennifer.Barnes@unt.edu.