Missouri State’s five-year-old jazz studies program is sending successful graduates into the music world, bringing living legends to MSU and putting on events for audiences beyond the campus.
Building a jazz degree option
Music Professor Randy Hamm has been at Missouri State for more than 25 years, and serves as woodwind division coordinator. He is also the director of the jazz studies degree program, which just started a few years ago.
“Twenty years ago, there were just a few courses in jazz,” Hamm said. He and his colleagues expanded the curriculum through the years, and in 2010 the University began offering a jazz performance track for the bachelor’s degree in music.
This is a unique degree option that services our state and area, and follows a larger trend. Hamm is also dedicated to bringing in some of the top names in jazz for concerts, master classes and signature events like the annual Jazz Festival.
“It’s been well received,” Hamm said. “The students we’re getting are excellent, and our graduates are experiencing great success. Alumni have accepted graduate assistantships at prestigious graduate jazz programs around the U.S., such as the New England Conservatory, Northern Illinois University and Northern Colorado University, and one of our spring 2015 graduates joined the Glenn Miller Orchestra for a summer tour of Australia.”
Want to hear live jazz on campus? Here are some opportunities.
This annual spring semester event, which has master classes and competitions for state high school bands, also typically features an evening performance by an internationally known professional guest artist or group. The performance is free and open to the public.
Jazz Studies Ensemble
This is a smaller ensemble of about four to six members. They focus on the improvisational aspects of jazz in more intimate settings, such as the Ellis Hall recital area on campus and Springfield-area establishments.
Jazz Bands Concert
The MSU jazz and stage bands present a final concert of the year each spring, usually in April. It’s free and open to the public.
– Story written by Michelle Rose, office of publications
Read more about the jazz program
This story first appeared in the 2015 College of Arts and Letters magazine — an annual publication celebrating the college’s departments, programs and community.