Jazz & Commercial Music Studies

The degree in Jazz and Commercial Music Studies at Hofstra is unique, as it encompasses a true liberal arts curriculum in addition to intensive training in music. All Jazz and Commercial Music majors must take the University Distribution courses in the humanities, social sciences, math and natural science, along with a core of "traditional" music courses (theory, ear-training, history, ensembles, etc.). The jazz/commercial requirements are incorporated in this "core" series via improvisation, Jazz history, arranging, songwriting, and electronic music/studio courses. We believe that it is truly a diverse methodology providing a well-rounded foundation for our students.

Jazz Ensemble

The Hofstra Jazz Ensemble is a traditional Jazz big band that specializes in the music of Jazz masters such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Thad Jones, and Charlie Parker. Past performances have included guest artists such as Byron Stripling, Ken Peplowski, Marion McPartland, and Randy Brecker. The band performs regularly on campus while maintaining an active off-campus performing schedule. 

Other Jazz Ensembles include the Vocal Jazz Ensemble, directed by Professor Natalie Fabian, Guitar Jazz Ensemble, directed by Professor Tom Guarna, and student-run groups such as the Little Big Band (nonet) and several chamber Jazz groups. These ensembles specialize in a diverse Jazz repertoire and perform at many on-campus functions, including an annual concert.

Alejandro Aviles, Director
E-mail | WWW

Audio Samples


Sound of Love

arr. Dave Lalama


Black Noon

Chris Scarnato


Nobody's Perfect

Sammy Nestico

All auditions for these ensembles take place during the first week of the fall semester. A sign-up sheet can be found on the door of Room 120 Shapiro Family Hall. Any auditions after the scheduled dates can be arranged with Professor Alejandro Aviles. All students will be required to perform two prepared Jazz pieces in different rhythmic styles (swing, straight-eighth, slow, fast), sight-reading, basic improvisation, and scales/modes.

If any student would like to perform in a Jazz ensemble but is inexperienced in the style, they can register for Music 20L and join the Jazz 20 Ensemble (no audition required) that focuses on the basics of Jazz ensemble playing and improvisation. This ensemble meets 1:00-2:22 p.m. in Room 020 Shapiro Family Hall, every Friday when there is no required Music 20 meeting.

Click Here for Upcoming Jazz Performances

Jazz Performance Requirements

Along with participation in many of the standing Jazz Ensembles (The Big Band, Little Big Band, Jazz 20 Ensemble, Jazz Combos, and the Vocal Jazz Ensemble), students in the  Jazz and Commercial Music program fulfill four semesters of 1-credit Basic (P)-level lessons on their primary instrument/voice. Ten 55-minute lessons are required during the course of each of those semesters. All students must take a jury at the end of the second, third, and fourth semesters, which will be considered as part of their respective final grades. There is NO jury requirement for the first semester.

The fourth semester jury must be a "double" jury in that the student must prepare content that will allow them to progress* to the next two semesters of 3-credit C-Level private instruction (fourteen 55-minute lessons per semester). The second semester of C-Level lessons must culminate in a full (2-set) recital. Though the Hofstra catalog designates this recital requirement as a "Junior" recital, the Jazz student (and private instructor) should treat it as a "Senior" recital requiring at least 70-75 minutes of music.  

The Jazz Recital must contain at least 7-10 minutes of a traditional "Classical" piece (or pieces) pertinent to the student’s instrument/voice and at least one original composition/song in any style (preferably something that represents their musical personality and creativity). The remainder of the recital should contain Jazz-specific repertoire that presents a diverse sampling of many styles (Ragtime, Dixieland, Swing, Bebop, Hard Bop, Cool, Modal, Free, Fusion, Contemporary, Neo-Classic, Latin, etc.), as advised and mentored by their private instructor.

The student non-musical responsibilities include procuring:
1) A recital date, time, and venue
2) Peer musicians
3) Rehearsal schedule and venues
4) Arranging to record the recital
5) Programs, posters, and mailers
6) All equipment necessary (drums, amps, PA, mics, stands, chairs, etc.)
7) Stage crew (organized through the Music office and/or the associate chair)

The Private Instructor will help the student organize their program regarding the repertoire and the printing of both the posters/mailers and the recital program.
(This can be done online through the Hofstra Portal. The department associate chair can help during this process.)

The Music Department does have a minimal fund for all recitalists for accompanists (especially the vocal recitals). All Jazz recitalists should talk to the department chair if such funding is needed to fulfill roles that cannot be done by peer musicians. It is strongly advised that such funds be requested as a last resort.

All prospective recitalists should contact Professor Adam Glaser (E-mail or 516-463-6593) at least one year before the prospective recital date for advisement on both the musical and administrative requirements of the Bachelor of Science in Music degree with a concentration in Jazz and Commercial Music.

* A student may take more than four semesters of P-Level lessons if needed, but the credit will not count toward the requirements.