Jazz Ensembles

Jazz students from the beginner to advanced level are enthusiastically invited to participate in jazz ensembles. No prior jazz experience is required and instrumentalists of ALL kinds, vocalists, rappers, and beatmakers are welcome! (Music 2711/2712).

Beginning jazz students will learn how to jam together in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment, while learning fundamentals of jazz harmony and improvisation, songwriting and song structure, and will be introduced to the experimental manipulation of sound through digital and analog effects, as well as through several popular DAWS (Digital Audio Workstation).

Intermediate and advanced jazz students will explore transcribing recordings, "covering" (playing one's own rendition of a recorded piece of music) songs with a jazz approach, and composition (which includes beatmaking and multi-media forms of creation). Regular discussions will occur on decolonizing the jazz learning process, creating safe and supportive containers of creativity, discovering one's individual creative process, growing in the art of performance, and falling in love with practicing. Based on student interest level, additional units will be available on recording - for the bedroom beatmaker, production, mixing, and an introduction to gigging.

A culminating project is required, to be presented to an audience, which may include performance and/or presentation.

Tracy McMullen, Director
Gibson Hall 201

Course Credit

All ensembles count for one-half credit per semester and are graded on a Credit/D/Fail basis. Two semesters will count towards the VPA (Visual and Performing Arts) requirement.


Please email professor Tracy McMullen to schedule an audition time.

Practices and Performances

Jazz groups rehearse twice per week (one-and-a-half hour sessions) and perform in concert at the end of each semester. We sometimes play at functions on campus and occasionally play a concert off campus. Rehearsals are usually in the late afternoon or evening; we try to work around peoples’ schedules.

Five women students studied jazz last year in Bowdoin’s jazz program: two pianists, a bass player, and two singers. Though small in number, they're undaunted by being a minority, and all express unequivocal enthusiasm for playing at Bowdoin.


"Eternal Triangle," Sonny Stitt
"First Snow," Dave Holland
"Little Sunflower," Freddie Hubbard
"Monk's Dream," Thelonius Monk