Jazz Lab Band – Course Outline


Course #: MUSI 1115, 5305, section 2 (one credit)
Semester: Spring 2020
Rehearsal schedule: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 – 3:45 p.m. Room: MUSB 107
Director: Earl MacDonald
Office: MUSB 207. Telephone/Voicemail: 860-486-0670
e-mail: Earl.MacDonald [at] UConn [dot] edu
Office Hours: Fridays, 9:05 – 9:55 and by appointment (room MUSB 207)

Post-COVID-19 university closure message:


Dear Jazz Lab Band members,

I hope everyone is healthy and adjusting well to online classes. I miss our regular rehearsals together.

As was shared earlier, we will complete the semester with two listening assignments. The first is due on April 14th, and the second assignment will be due on April 28th. Below are the links, which include detailed instructions, attachments, audio files, etc.

Regarding grading and assessment: Thus far, everyone has earned an ‘A’ grade for your rehearsal preparedness, conduct and performance efforts. In both ensembles, we will weigh the first portion of the semester as 80% of your final grade. The final 20% will be allocated to the 2 listening assignments, worth 10% each.
Should you have any questions or concerns, you may certainly contact me via e-mail.

Take care of yourselves, make good social distancing choices, and I hope to see you all again before too long.

~ Professor MacDonald


This ensemble will explore and perform literature written for the big band. A wide variety of styles, composers and arrangers will be studied. Some of the many composers and arrangers whose music will be represented include: Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico, Bob Mintzer, Frank Foster, Neal Hefti, Oliver Nelson, Erica Seguine, Rob McConnell, Don Sebesky, Bill Holman, Slide Hampton, Jim McNeely, John LaBarbera, Michael Abene, and Maria Schneider. Compositions and arrangements by students and faculty are encouraged and will also be represented.

Within this ensemble, the students will…

  • become acquainted with the stylistic nuances of swing, through the analysis of audio recordings, videos and in-person demonstrations.
  • develop proficiency in interpreting notated jazz ensemble music.
  • refine the art of blending their sound within their section and across sections of the ensemble (ie. saxophone with trumpet).
  • build skills in jazz improvisation, musicianship and musical interaction.
  • strive to elevate their individual sight-reading expertise.
  • cultivate self-reflection practices through critiquing and assessing their personal and group performance in concerts and rehearsals.
  • be exposed to a variety of jazz repertoire and be able to place it into historical and social context.
  • add to their cumulative, preparatory experience for professional performance situations (including being aware of varying of rehearsal and practice techniques).
  • present exciting, well-programmed concerts of the highest caliber.
  • have fun, playing great music!

Jazz Lab Band On-campus performances:

  • Feb. 16 (Sun.):  Jazz Showcase.  5PM. VDM.
  • April 5 (Sun.): UConn Jazz Lab Band. 5PM. VDM.


  • Rehearsal preparedness, etiquette and participation: 40%
    • 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. [See the policies outlined below.]
  • Recorded mastery appraisals: 20%
    • Using their smartphones, students will video record themselves or their sections playing selected passages (solis, etc.). The recordings will be uploaded for the director’s viewing and assessment.
  • Performances: 40%
    • For judging development, progression and accomplishment over a period of time, concerts serve the same function as midterm and final examinations in traditional courses.

* The programming, course content and grading scheme are subject to modification at the directors discretion.

Jazz Lab Band Rehearsal & Performance Policies

  1. Students must be in attendance and on time at all rehearsals and performances. If sickness or an emergency situation requires that the student be absent from a rehearsal, the student must arrange for a substitute. It is the student’s responsibility to notify the instructor in advance and get the music to the substitute. (It is also the responsibility of the student to get his/her music back from the substitute for the next rehearsal.) Failure to provide the substitute with the music for rehearsal, or failure to get the music back for the next rehearsal may result in the lowering of the student’s final grade. Both an e-mail and voicemail message should be left at least one hour prior to the rehearsal. An unexcused absence will result in the lowering of the student’s grade. Students with three unexcused absences will be immediately dropped from the class and assigned an “F” for the semester. Only the instructor may determine what constitutes an “excused absence”. Repeated tardiness will result in a lowering of the student’s final grade.
  2. Performances scheduled after the semester begins will be mandatory for the student if no objection is raised at the time of the query. Any student who misses a performance without permission in advance from the instructor will be immediately dropped from the class and assigned an “F” for the semester.
  3. No food or drink (except water) is allowed in the rehearsal room.
  4. Cell phones are to be turned off and not used during jazz lab band rehearsals and performances. “Texting”during rehearsals is not permitted.
  5. Any music handed out to students during the semester is the sole responsibility of that student. Failure to return any music to the jazz department that was handed out during the year will require the student to pay for replacement of the missing music. When music is no longer available from the publisher, student will submit a complete part transcribed from the score utilizing a music notation program (Finale, Sibelius, etc.) NO EXCEPTIONS! Grades will not be issued until all music is returned.
  6. Students are expected to act responsibly and professionally at all rehearsals and performances. Jazz Lab Band concert attire is semi-formal: ties/coats for men. No tennis shoes, jeans, sunglasses or hats. At NO TIME are students permitted to drink alcohol at/before a jazz rehearsal or performance.

Communication policy

E-mail is the instructor’s preferred method of communication with students. Please allow 48-hours for replies. When requesting a meeting with me outside of my office hours, please submit several meeting time options. I prefer to be addressed as Professor MacDonald.

Some useful telephone numbers, websites and services:
Student Code

You are responsible for acting in accordance with the University of Connecticut’s Student Conduct Code. Review and become familiar with these expectations.

Academic Integrity

This course expects all students to act in accordance with the Guidelines for Academic Integrity at the University of Connecticut. Consult UConn’s guidelines for academic integrity. Cheating and plagiarism are taken very seriously at the University of Connecticut. As a student, it is your responsibility to avoid plagiarism.

Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment and Related Interpersonal Violence

The University is committed to maintaining an environment free of discrimination or discriminatory harassment directed toward any person or group within its 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. More information is available at equity.uconn.edu and titleix.uconn.edu.


Except for final examinations, the instructor has final authority in permitting students to submit assignments late or make up examinations.


My lectures, notes, handouts, and displays are protected by state common law and federal copyright law. They are my own original expression and I’ve recorded them prior or during my lecture in order to ensure that I obtain copyright protection. Students are authorized to take notes in my class; however, this authorization extends only to making one set of notes for your own personal use and no other use. I will inform you as to whether you are authorized to record my lectures at the beginning of each semester. If you are so authorized to record my lectures, you may not copy this recording or any other material, provide copies of either to anyone else, or make a commercial use of them without prior permission from me.

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/.

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