SFJAZZ.org | Auditions
The SFJAZZ High School All-Stars performing in Miner Auditorium

High School All-Stars Auditions

The High School All-Stars program provides advanced-level training and performance opportunities for some of the most talented musicians in the Bay Area. Comprised of two ensembles - the Big Band, directed by Paul Contos, and the Combo, directed by Dann Zinn - as well as Alternate and Mentorship Programs, the All-Stars rehearse and perform with today's top jazz educators and artists.

Audition for

High School All-Stars

Sign Up

The High School All-Stars program provides advanced-level training and performance opportunities for some of the most talented musicians in the Bay Area. Comprised of two ensembles - the Big Band, directed by Paul Contos, and the Combo, directed by Dann Zinn - as well as Alternate and Mentorship Programs, the All-Stars rehearse and perform with today's top jazz educators and artists.

Audition for

High School All-Stars

Sign Up

AUDITION & ENROLLMENT INFO

Please note that 2021 High School All-Stars auditions will take place virtually for horn players and vocalists July 27-29; rhythm players will audition masked at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center July 30.

1. Complete the audition form. You will be contacted by SFJAZZ staff with an audition time.
2. If you cannot make any of the audition dates, we will consider pre-recorded video auditions (note that this does not give you the opportunity to sight read for the adjudicators).
3. Musicians who have been accepted into the ensemble(s) will be notified by the Education Department and given a link to enroll. Those who have been accepted into the Alternate or Mentorship Program will be notified and provided with participant info.

What to Expect at Auditions

Once you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email with your audition date and time. Horn players and vocalists: you will receive a Zoom link to log in to your audition that day. Rhythm players: you will come to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center the day of your audition. These are scheduled on a rolling basis, so please allow several weeks to receive your confirmation email. Horn and vocal auditioners will perform two pieces of their own choosing: one standard and one blues. Rhythm auditioners will try out in small groups and will decide what to play together from a list of standards (see below). Additionally, all auditioners will play 1-2 excerpts that will be sent out that week in order for musicians to prepare. Adjudicators will be evaluating you based on technique, musicality, familiarity with jazz language, improvisation, and reading ability.

Zoom auditions (horn, vocal)
Please make sure that you are warmed up, logged in, and ready to play at least 2 minutes before your audition time, and that you are in a quiet space with a good internet connection and enough lighting for the adjudicators to see you and your instrument. You will be given 10 minutes for your audition. Please note that vocalists may use a backing track. For Zoom best practices, please click here.

Horns
Please plan to play the melody and also take a solo; for blues heads, we would like to hear at least 2 choruses (and no more than 4) of soloing or scatting. We recommend that you consider selecting contrasting pieces, such as an up-tempo blues and a standard ballad, or a funky Latin groove and a slower blues. Be prepared to improvise on both your standard and your blues. Doublers are encouraged to audition on multiple instruments. Trumpet players: please inform adjudicators if you are auditioning for the lead trumpet chair. You will be asked to play one or two phrases in the extended range. Trombone players: please inform the adjudicators if you are auditioning as bass trombonist. 

Vocalists
Vocalists may audition with a backing track; two contrasting pieces are recommended. Vocalists are not required to take a solo chorus, but are encouraged to do so if they feel comfortable (if you are auditioning for the Combo, you are required to solo). Be prepared to sing one or all of the following: chromatic scale, major scale, harmonic minor scale, mixolydian scale (major scale with lowered 7th degree).

In-person auditions (rhythm)
All rhythm auditions will take place in small groups at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center (200 Van Ness Ave, SF). Please wear a mask and arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time in order to check in and warm up. We will pre-assign students in different groups so that you will know who you will be playing with ahead of the audition. If there are students you know who will be signing up, please state your preference to play with them so we can try to schedule you at the same time. Each group will have up to 30 minutes to play together, including reading a chart together which will be sent out ahead of time. We also want to hear you improvise, including extended solos as well as trading 4s. A piano, amps, and drums (including cymbals) will be provided; drummers, please bring sticks and brushes. 
PARENTS: In an effort to limit SFCM exposure, we are kindly requesting that you wait outside of the building during student auditions.

Auditioners should be prepared to play 2-3 of the following tunes:
Oleo
Billie’s Bounce
I’ll Remember April
Ceora
Confirmation
Someday My Prince Will Come
My One And Only Love

Piano/Guitar
Be prepared to play the melody, improvise, and comp through the chord changes. 

Bass
Be prepared to play the melody of a tune, walking bass lines, improvise, and demonstrate (separately) playing a Latin-style or straight-eighth figure. 

Drums
Be prepared to play examples of the following feels: swing at different tempos (medium, very fast, and ballad), Latin, bossa, and funk. Please have brushes ready. 

**High School All-Stars Combo

The All-Stars Combo is a training and performance ensemble with an emphasis on composing and arranging. Students interested in the Combo must demonstrate proficient improvisational ability, as well as interest and ability in composing and arranging. The Combo meets weekly (separately from the Big Band) and requires time commitment for at-home arranging, rehearsal, and performances. Please let the adjudicators know if you are interested in the Combo only, or both ensembles.

AUDITION FAQ

Q: How do I know if I’m ready to audition for the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars?
A: SFJAZZ High School All-Stars candidates typically have at least 4 years of experience with their instrument and at least 2 years of experience playing jazz. 

Q: What do I do if I’m nervous?
A: Smile, take a deep breath, and do your best! We know students get nervous for auditions, but the more you prepare for and experience doing them, the better you get at managing those butterflies.

Q: When will I be notified of whether or not I have been accepted to the All-Stars program?
A: We do our best to communicate results within two weeks of auditions.

Q: When does the band rehearse?
A: The Big Band rehearses from 5:45 to 7:45 pm on Tuesday nights. The Combo rehearses afterward, from 8 to 9:30 pm on Tuesdays.

Q: Where is rehearsal?
A: Both bands rehearse at the SFJAZZ Center. The space is easily accessible by MUNI and BART. Street parking is available, however very limited; paid parking is available at the Performing Arts Garage. *Fall 2021 rehearsals may involve some virtual meetings, but we hope to transition to fully in-person this season.

Q: Is there a cost associated with the High School All-Stars program?
A: The High School All-Stars is a tuition-free program; there is no cost to join the ensembles, alternate program, or mentorship program.

Q: What is an Alternate?
A: An alternate is someone who is not a regular member of the band but will be called upon to sub for a band member at rehearsals, recordings, or performances. Benefits include free concert tickets to select SFJAZZ shows, and a standing invitation to observe rehearsals, clinics, and workshops.

Q: What is the Mentorship Program?
A: The Mentorship Program is designed to offer less experienced, yet enthusiastic young musicians in grades 8 - 12 the opportunity to be exposed to rehearsals, clinics, and concerts in order to encourage their interest in jazz music. Mentorship Program participants (AKA: mentees) are welcome to attend High School All-Stars Big Band rehearsals, and are offered free tickets to select SFJAZZ concerts and classes. 

Q: Does the band travel?
A: We aim to travel to one festival per year, circumstances permitting. In January 2022, the Big Band will be participating in the Las Vegas Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival at UNLV. SFJAZZ covers travel and hotel costs in these cases; food, ground transportation, and incidentals are covered by band members. In the event that any cost is prohibitive, we ask that the ensemble member contact SFJAZZ Education regarding assistance.

For questions, please contact education@sfjazz.org.

AUDITION & ENROLLMENT INFO

Please note that 2021 High School All-Stars auditions will take place virtually for horn players and vocalists July 27-29; rhythm players will audition masked at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center July 30.

1. Complete the audition form. You will be contacted by SFJAZZ staff with an audition time.
2. If you cannot make any of the audition dates, we will consider pre-recorded video auditions (note that this does not give you the opportunity to sight read for the adjudicators).
3. Musicians who have been accepted into the ensemble(s) will be notified by the Education Department and given a link to enroll. Those who have been accepted into the Alternate or Mentorship Program will be notified and provided with participant info.

What to Expect at Auditions

Once you sign up, you will receive a confirmation email with your audition date and time. Horn players and vocalists: you will receive a Zoom link to log in to your audition that day. Rhythm players: you will come to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center the day of your audition. These are scheduled on a rolling basis, so please allow several weeks to receive your confirmation email. Horn and vocal auditioners will perform two pieces of their own choosing: one standard and one blues. Rhythm auditioners will try out in small groups and will decide what to play together from a list of standards (see below). Additionally, all auditioners will play 1-2 excerpts that will be sent out that week in order for musicians to prepare. Adjudicators will be evaluating you based on technique, musicality, familiarity with jazz language, improvisation, and reading ability.

Zoom auditions (horn, vocal)
Please make sure that you are warmed up, logged in, and ready to play at least 2 minutes before your audition time, and that you are in a quiet space with a good internet connection and enough lighting for the adjudicators to see you and your instrument. You will be given 10 minutes for your audition. Please note that vocalists may use a backing track. For Zoom best practices, please click here.

Horns
Please plan to play the melody and also take a solo; for blues heads, we would like to hear at least 2 choruses (and no more than 4) of soloing or scatting. We recommend that you consider selecting contrasting pieces, such as an up-tempo blues and a standard ballad, or a funky Latin groove and a slower blues. Be prepared to improvise on both your standard and your blues. Doublers are encouraged to audition on multiple instruments. Trumpet players: please inform adjudicators if you are auditioning for the lead trumpet chair. You will be asked to play one or two phrases in the extended range. Trombone players: please inform the adjudicators if you are auditioning as bass trombonist. 

Vocalists
Vocalists may audition with a backing track; two contrasting pieces are recommended. Vocalists are not required to take a solo chorus, but are encouraged to do so if they feel comfortable (if you are auditioning for the Combo, you are required to solo). Be prepared to sing one or all of the following: chromatic scale, major scale, harmonic minor scale, mixolydian scale (major scale with lowered 7th degree).

In-person auditions (rhythm)
All rhythm auditions will take place in small groups at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Bowes Center (200 Van Ness Ave, SF). Please wear a mask and arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time in order to check in and warm up. We will pre-assign students in different groups so that you will know who you will be playing with ahead of the audition. If there are students you know who will be signing up, please state your preference to play with them so we can try to schedule you at the same time. Each group will have up to 30 minutes to play together, including reading a chart together which will be sent out ahead of time. We also want to hear you improvise, including extended solos as well as trading 4s. A piano, amps, and drums (including cymbals) will be provided; drummers, please bring sticks and brushes. 
PARENTS: In an effort to limit SFCM exposure, we are kindly requesting that you wait outside of the building during student auditions.

Auditioners should be prepared to play 2-3 of the following tunes:
Oleo
Billie’s Bounce
I’ll Remember April
Ceora
Confirmation
Someday My Prince Will Come
My One And Only Love

Piano/Guitar
Be prepared to play the melody, improvise, and comp through the chord changes. 

Bass
Be prepared to play the melody of a tune, walking bass lines, improvise, and demonstrate (separately) playing a Latin-style or straight-eighth figure. 

Drums
Be prepared to play examples of the following feels: swing at different tempos (medium, very fast, and ballad), Latin, bossa, and funk. Please have brushes ready. 

**High School All-Stars Combo

The All-Stars Combo is a training and performance ensemble with an emphasis on composing and arranging. Students interested in the Combo must demonstrate proficient improvisational ability, as well as interest and ability in composing and arranging. The Combo meets weekly (separately from the Big Band) and requires time commitment for at-home arranging, rehearsal, and performances. Please let the adjudicators know if you are interested in the Combo only, or both ensembles.

AUDITION FAQ

Q: How do I know if I’m ready to audition for the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars?
A: SFJAZZ High School All-Stars candidates typically have at least 4 years of experience with their instrument and at least 2 years of experience playing jazz. 

Q: What do I do if I’m nervous?
A: Smile, take a deep breath, and do your best! We know students get nervous for auditions, but the more you prepare for and experience doing them, the better you get at managing those butterflies.

Q: When will I be notified of whether or not I have been accepted to the All-Stars program?
A: We do our best to communicate results within two weeks of auditions.

Q: When does the band rehearse?
A: The Big Band rehearses from 5:45 to 7:45 pm on Tuesday nights. The Combo rehearses afterward, from 8 to 9:30 pm on Tuesdays.

Q: Where is rehearsal?
A: Both bands rehearse at the SFJAZZ Center. The space is easily accessible by MUNI and BART. Street parking is available, however very limited; paid parking is available at the Performing Arts Garage. *Fall 2021 rehearsals may involve some virtual meetings, but we hope to transition to fully in-person this season.

Q: Is there a cost associated with the High School All-Stars program?
A: The High School All-Stars is a tuition-free program; there is no cost to join the ensembles, alternate program, or mentorship program.

Q: What is an Alternate?
A: An alternate is someone who is not a regular member of the band but will be called upon to sub for a band member at rehearsals, recordings, or performances. Benefits include free concert tickets to select SFJAZZ shows, and a standing invitation to observe rehearsals, clinics, and workshops.

Q: What is the Mentorship Program?
A: The Mentorship Program is designed to offer less experienced, yet enthusiastic young musicians in grades 8 - 12 the opportunity to be exposed to rehearsals, clinics, and concerts in order to encourage their interest in jazz music. Mentorship Program participants (AKA: mentees) are welcome to attend High School All-Stars Big Band rehearsals, and are offered free tickets to select SFJAZZ concerts and classes. 

Q: Does the band travel?
A: We aim to travel to one festival per year, circumstances permitting. In January 2022, the Big Band will be participating in the Las Vegas Regional Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival at UNLV. SFJAZZ covers travel and hotel costs in these cases; food, ground transportation, and incidentals are covered by band members. In the event that any cost is prohibitive, we ask that the ensemble member contact SFJAZZ Education regarding assistance.

For questions, please contact education@sfjazz.org.

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