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EIU Department of Music

Jazz Ensembles


The EIU Jazz Ensemble is directed by Sam Fagaly. The group has received numerous awards including Outstanding  Ensemble and Solo Performance citations at the Notre Dame and Elmhurst College jazz festivals as well as from Downbeat magazine. They have been featured at the International Association for Jazz Education and Illinois Music Educators Association conferences and have performed with legendary jazz artists Mel Torme, Dizzy Gillespie, Diane Schuur, and Joe Williams among others. The Jazz Ensemble's latest CD is entitled "Three O'Clock Downbeat." 

The EIU Jazz Lab Band, directed by Paul Johnston, provides an opportunity for more students to gain experience with big band repertoire. Rehearsals emphasize the fundamentals of stylistic interpretation, articulation, and improvisation.

Jazz Combos
 meet twice each week and perform at least two concerts per semester. Groups frequently have additional off-campus performances. In recent years, Eastern combos have been recognized for outstanding performances at the Elmhurst, Notre Dame, and North Texas Jazz Festivals.

A variety of courses in theory, improvisation, and arranging are available to all EIU students. Auditions for EIU jazz groups are held at the beginning of each fall semester.


The EIU Jazz Studies Program offers a number of events for high school musicians each year. These include Honor Jazz Combo Day in November, the EIU Jazz Festival in February, and Eastern Music Camp in July.

We welcome high school students interested in attending EIU to visit. We would be happy to set up a day for you to sit in on classes and ensemble rehearsals, meet current students, and have a lesson. Contact Sam Fagaly or Paul Johnston to schedule a visit.


Fall 2023 Jazz Ensemble Auditions:

There will be an informational meeting about the jazz program on Monday, August 21, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. in DFAC 1360. You are encouraged to attend to review the audition materials and ask any questions you might have. You may sign up for an audition at the meeting, or sign up on line. 

To audition for a jazz group, students should do the following:

  1. Complete the online form by Monday, August 21, 2023, at 6:00 p.m.; and 
  2. Sign up for an audition time.  The schedule is: Monday evening beginning at 7:15 p.m. - drums, bass, piano and guitar, Tuesday beginning at 12:30 - trumpets, trombones, and saxes.  The detailed schedule is shown on the signup sheet found here.

Audition excerpts will be made available approximately one week prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Saxophone: attached excerpts; a chromatic scale, throughout your comfortable range; and improvised solo choruses on a jazz standard (optional for ensembles, required for combo)

Trumpet:  attached excerpts; a D major scale, beginning above middle C and going as high as you are comfortable; improvised solo choruses on a jazz standard (optional for ensembles, required for combo)

Trombone: attached excerpts; a two-octave chromatic scale, beginning on the F at the bottom of the bass clef.

Guitar: attached excerpts; a two-octave chromatic scale, beginning on middle C; improvised solo choruses on a jazz standard (optional for ensembles, required for combo)

Piano: attached excerpts; a three-octave chromatic scale; improvised solo choruses on a jazz standard (optional for ensembles, required for combo)

Bass: attached excerpts; a two octave, walking, chromatic scale, beginning on low E; improvised solo choruses on a jazz standard (optional for ensembles, required for combo)

Drums: attached excerpts; 16 bars of medium swing at quarter=132; 16 bars of fast swing at quarter = 212; 16 bars of a bossa nova; 16 bars of a samba; 16 bars of a jazz waltz; 16 bars of a funk groove


Related Pages

Contact Information

Music Department

Doudna Fine Arts Center
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920

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