UConn Jazz Lab Band – Syllabus

MUSI 1115, section 2

The preparation, study, and performance of large jazz ensemble music, representing a spectrum of styles and periods, to provide understanding of the genre’s historical, social, and cultural contexts. CA1.

Credits: One credit each semester. Two laboratory periods. May be repeated for credit.
Rehearsal schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 – 3:45 PM.
Room: MUSB 109.
Instructor: Professor Earl MacDonald
Telephone: 860-486-0670
E-mail: earl [dot] macdonald [at] uconn [dot] edu
Office Hours: Wednesdays at 10 a.m., and by appointment. MUSB 207.

Required Method Book: Rhythm Madness for trumpet & all treble clef instruments (bass clef available as well), by Rich Willey. This book is available in the UConn Bookstore.

Link to Recordings
(this semester’s music)

Recommended Big Band Listening

Spring 2024 Event Dates

Friday, Feb. 9th…UConn High School Jazz Festival (all day)

Sunday, April 14…Lab Band Concert in VDM @ 3:00 PM

Sunday, April 21…Jazz Combos Concert in VDM @ 12:00 noon.

Sunday, April 21…Jazz Ensemble Concert in VDM @ 6:00 PM

Jazz ensembles at the University of Connecticut are open to students from all concentrations within the university who demonstrate the requisite instrumental skill in their audition.

By studying, preparing, and performing repertoire that represents the wide spectrum of jazz styles and eras, the UConn jazz ensembles pay homage to the rich big band tradition. The exact instrumentation, number of class sections, and programmatic concert themes vary from semester to semester, based on enrollment numbers, faculty resources and providing thematic diversification. The ensembles frequently focus on the music of a specific composer, arranger, or professional band, for a semester. Afro-Latin jazz, exploring the intersection of music from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, and the Caribbean is amongst the continuous rotation of repertoire. Additionally, new works composed and/or arranged by UCONN faculty, alumni and students are periodically programmed, thereby providing students with the opportunity to interact with a composer in the process of realizing their artistic vision. All selected repertoires will serve as a vehicle for teaching stylistic nuance, while cultivating an awareness of the music’s historical, social, and cultural significance and contexts. Public engagement is accomplished through providing concerts and workshops at high schools, educational jazz festivals, and music education conferences throughout New England.

Course Learning Objectives

At the completion of the courses, students will be able to…

LO1. appropriately interpret jazz ensemble music, including notation and improvisation.

LO2. critique and assess their personal growth and group performance in rehearsals and concerts.

LO3. identify the stylistic nuances of various jazz styles, through the analysis of audio recordings, videos and in-person demonstrations.

LO4. place jazz into historical, social, and cultural contexts, based upon exposure to a variety of jazz repertoire. Students will recognize how jazz has amalgamated with other culturally expressive styles to morph into new subgenres. 


  • Rehearsal preparedness, participation, and professionalism: 30%
    • For all rehearsals and performances, students are expected to: have practiced & prepared the assigned music (including listening to preexisting recordings, if applicable), be in attendance and on time, bring the necessary equipment, and act responsibly & professionally.
  • Recorded mastery appraisals and reflection: 20%
    • Students will submit 2 video recordings of their sectional rehearsals. The section leader will upload the sectional video to YouTube, make the settings private, and send the instructor a link.
    • Video submission requirements: each video should contain 20 minutes of playing, and 10 minutes of reflection on individual/section artistic growth in relation to the specific music, period, style, and composer(s) under current preparation. Each student must contribute to the dialogue within the 10-minute time frame.
    • Scheduled sectional dates (in-class): Tuesday, March 5th & Thursday, April 4th.
      Videos must be submitted within 24 hours of the sectional.
  • Listening Assignment: 10% [details pertaining to this assignment may change]
    • Attend and observe the Jazz Ensemble’s rehearsal on Tuesday, Feb. 13th at 2 PM in von der Mehden Recital. Chronicle what was played and how it was rehearsed.
      • Identify things at which the ensemble and individual players excel. Consider (but don’t limit yourself to) criteria such as technical proficiency, articulations, musical expression, and communication between players.
      • Offer constructive feedback on areas for improvement, specifying aspects that could enhance the overall performance.
      • Choose one song the Jazz Ensemble rehearsed. Research the historical context of the piece, its composer/arranger, and listen to the original recording.
      • Evaluate whether the Jazz Ensemble’s rendition is well-informed by the recording. Provide insights into areas where more focused attention could be beneficial.
      • Include a brief historical account of the selected composer and the ensemble featured in the original recording.
      • Requirements: Between 2 and 3 pages, Times New Roman, 12 pt font, double spaced.
      • In-Class Work Periods: Tuesday, Feb. 13th & Thursday, Feb. 15th.
      • Due Date: Friday, Feb. 16th (before 5 p.m.)
      • Submission: Upload to Google Drive.
  • Performances: 25%
    • Concerts serve as a principal means for judging musical development, progression, and accomplishment within the ensemble.
  • Written Reflection: 15%

Dates Professor MacDonald will be out-of-town:

  • Tues., Feb. 13 – listening assignment obervation
  • Thurs., Feb. 15 – listening assignment work period
  • Tues., March 5 — SECTIONAL
  • Thurs., March 7 (no rehearsal)
  • [SPRING BREAK: March 10 – 15]
  • Thurs., April 4 (possibly) — SECTIONAL

Jazz Ensemble Rehearsal & Performance Policies

Attendance and Preparedness:

Students must attend all rehearsals and performances on time and prepared. Weekly rehearsal details will be shared via HuskyCT announcements every Friday for the following week. In cases of illness or emergencies, advance notice to the instructor is mandatory. For unavoidable absences, students should organize a substitute and ensure they have the required music. Failure to provide music to a substitute or retrieve it for future rehearsals may impact the final grade. Notify the instructor of any absence at least one hour before rehearsal at (860) 786-8545.

Absences and Tardiness:

Unexcused absences or repeated tardiness may lead to grade deductions. The instructor assesses excused absences. Upon three unexcused absences, a meeting will be arranged to address solutions, which may include alternative assignments or withdrawal from the ensemble if necessary. Our goal is student success while maintaining ensemble standards.


Attendance at performances is mandatory. If a student must be absent for genuine reasons, prior communication with the instructor is essential. Unapproved absence from a performance is a serious breach, as it detrimentally impacts the ensemble’s collective effort. Consequences will be assessed individually, with a commitment to equitable treatment for everyone involved. Potential actions include a failing grade for the missed performance or, if deemed necessary, withdrawal from the ensemble. Our goal is to maintain ensemble integrity and uphold the standards driving its success.

Rehearsal Room Rules:

Only water is permitted in the rehearsal room—no food or other beverages. Please return chairs and music stands to their racks, and aim to leave the room more organized than you found it.

Digital Distractions:

Cell phones should be turned off and kept out of sight during rehearsals and performances to avoid distractions.

Music Responsibility:

Students are responsible for any music distributed to them during the semester. Unreturned music will require the student to cover the cost of replacement. In cases where music is unavailable from the publisher, students must submit a transcribed part using a music notation program (such as Finale or Sibelius) before final grades are issued.

Professional Behavior:

Students are expected to exhibit professional behavior at all rehearsals and performances. Consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited at or before any jazz rehearsal or performance.

Concert Attire:

Concert attire is semi-formal, unless otherwise specified. Option 1 includes a blazer, dress shirt, necktie, dress socks, and dress shoes. Option 2 includes dress slacks or knee-length skirts, a blouse, and dress shoes. Students should avoid low necklines, bare shoulders, midriffs, sneakers, denim, sunglasses, and hats.

It is the responsibility of all students to acquaint themselves, and to adhere to all university policies. Please review the following:

Students are expected to follow all safety protocols and to keep current with university communications regarding COVID-19.

Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence

The University is committed to maintaining a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living, and working environments for all members of the University community – students, employees, or visitors. Academic and professional excellence can flourish only when each member of our community is assured an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of the University community are responsible for the maintenance of an academic and work environment in which people are free to learn and work without fear of discrimination or discriminatory harassment. In addition, inappropriate amorous relationships can undermine the University’s mission when those in positions of authority abuse or appear to abuse their authority. To that end, and in accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits discrimination and discriminatory harassment, as well as inappropriate amorous relationships, and such behavior will be met with appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the University. Additionally, to protect the campus community, all responsible employees (including faculty), as outlined in the Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence, are required to report to the Office of Institutional Equity any information that they receive related to sexual assaults, intimate partner violence, and/or stalking involving a student. An exception to this reporting exists if students disclose information as a part of coursework submitted to an instructor in connection with a course assignment. Even in the absence of such obligation, all Employees are encouraged to contact OIE if they become aware of information that suggests a safety risk to the University community or any member thereof. The University takes all reports with the utmost seriousness. Please be aware that while the information you provide will remain private, it will not be confidential and will be shared with university officials who can help. More information, including confidential and exempt employee resources available for support and assistance, can be found at equity.uconn.edu and titleix.uconn.edu.

Statement on Absences from Class Due to Religious Observances and Extra-Curricular Activities

Faculty and instructors are expected to reasonably accommodate individual religious practices unless doing so would result in fundamental alteration of class objectives or undue hardship to the University’s legitimate business purposes. Such accommodations may include rescheduling an exam or giving a make-up exam, allowing a presentation to be made on a different date or assigning the student appropriate make-up work that is intrinsically no more difficult than the original assignment. Faculty and instructors are strongly encouraged to allow students to complete work missed due to participation in extra-curricular activities that enrich their experience, support their scholarly development, and benefit the university community. Examples include participation in scholarly presentations, performing arts, and intercollegiate sports, when the participation is at the request of, or coordinated by, a University official. Students should be encouraged to review the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester for potential conflicts and promptly notify their instructor of any anticipated accommodation needs. Students are responsible for making arrangements in advance to make up missed work.

For conflicts with final examinations, students should contact the Dean of Students Office. Faculty and instructors are also encouraged to respond when the Counseling Program for Intercollegiate Athletes (CPIA) requests student progress reports. This will enable the counselors to give our students appropriate advice.

Students with Disabilities

The University of Connecticut is committed to protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and assuring that the learning environment is accessible. If you anticipate or experience physical or academic barriers based on disability or pregnancy, please let me know immediately so that we can discuss options. Students who require accommodations should contact the Center for Students with Disabilities, Wilbur Cross Building Room 204, (860) 486-2020 or http://csd.uconn.edu/.

Emergency Management/Preparedness

In case of inclement weather, a natural disaster, or a campus emergency, the University communicates through email and text message. Students are encouraged to sign up for alerts through http://alert.uconn.edu. Students should be aware of emergency procedures, and further information is available through the Office of Emergency Management at http://publicsafety.uconn.edu/emergency/.

Some useful telephone numbers:

Thanks in advance for your enthusiasm and dedication to making great music!  Have an awesome semester!

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