School of Music offering jazz minor


Abby Mariano, a fifth year music education and clarinet performance double major, and Brian Rizzo, a fifth year music education major, sit in Chas Baker’s Jazz Ensemble Techniques and Literature class in the Music and Speech Building on Wednesday, Sept. 7. Baker has been teaching Jazz studies at Kent since 1977 and is pleased with the new Jazz minor offered. “I love it,” Baker said. “I’ve been wanting to do the Jazz minor for about 25 years.” Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Katie Fickle

This fall the School of Music is offering a jazz minor to students for the first time.

The minor is available to students of any major.

Chas Baker, associate professor of music who teaches classes like History of Jazz and Jazz Composing and Arranging, said he wanted the minor added into the school for a long time.

“There were problems in the larger university curriculum that prevented us from using the minor,” Baker said. “It was all about the word — minor.”

Faculty had hopes to introduce it for while but couldn’t put it into the curriculum because students cannot major and minor in the same concentration.

For example, a student cannot major and minor in philosophy said Denise Seachrist, director of the School of Music.

After a year of going through an approval process the School of Music now offers the minor in jazz studies, which requires 21 credit hours.

The minor also requires playing an instrument, Baker said.

Typical jazz instruments are piano, bass, drums, vibes, saxophone, guitar, saxophone, trumpet and trombone, Baker said.

Students who have a passion for music are encouraged to audition any time said Bobby Selvaggio, assistant music professor.

The minor will help students stand out to employers from other competition, but the minor isn’t open to only music majors, Selvaggio said.

To set up an audition contact Selvaggio or Baker at [email protected] and [email protected]

The exact number of students pursuing the minor is unknown; however, it’s growing, Selvaggio said.

Max Michael, junior music education major, who plays the trumpet and piano, said he thinks the experience will help him when he graduates.

Michael said it helps you grow more as a player.

Jazz courses were offered before the minor was introduced, but now the classes are organized from a beginning to an advanced level.

“We are going to be interested this semester, next semester and next year to find people,” Selvaggio said. “It’s important for us to get a good core of people to expand. The goal is to have classes coinciding all the time.”

The School of Music is still trying to get the word out. Northeast Ohio high schools are the main target for attracting new students to the university through the new minor, Selvaggio said.

Selvaggio has emailed band directors he knows to increase awareness of the new music opportunities.

“It’s important to stress the educational aspects of jazz,” Selvaggio said. “Exposing people to it is important.”

Contact Katie Fickle at [email protected].