North Central College - Naperville, IL

Jazz Studies

Why choose jazz studies at North Central College?

You’ll learn from internationally known faculty who are at the top of their game. Our talented musician-teachers know what it takes to succeed as a jazz artist, and they will help you do just that.

Our instrumental lessons last an hour each, rather than the 30 minutes common at other institutions. But we don’t stop at teaching you the art of jazz. Our faculty will also show you how to market and manage yourself, how to network effectively—in short, how to earn a living as a musician. And at a time when many schools are cutting back on the arts, North Central College is wholeheartedly supporting them through new venues, curriculum updates, stellar faculty and competitive scholarships.

You can also:

  • Join any of our many jazz ensembles, including Combos, Big Band, Vocal Jazz, Chamber Jazz, Jazz Guitar, and many more. Every jazz group meets for 90 minutes weekly under the direction of a jazz faculty member, so you'll learn how to work effectively with a professional musician.
  • Forge valuable connections in the industry, thanks to faculty with established professional networks.


Eight faculty and administrative staff were recognized this spring with awards for outstanding teaching, leadership, scholarship and administrative service.
The North Central College Board of Trustees grants tenure, approves promotions to faculty members effective with the start of the 2016-2017 academic year.
Tim Coffman, North Central College lecturer in music and jazz trombonist, was featured in the Chicago Federation of Musicians publication “Intermezzo.”



Recent graduates in jazz studies include:

  • Professional performers
  • Jazz composer/arrangers
  • Public school teachers with jazz concentrations
Music: Jazz Studies major

A serious musician who practically lives in North Central’s practice rooms, Max takes every opportunity to rehearse with jazz ensembles.

“Being part of an ensemble is the best thing for your career,” he says. “This year I joined six groups, which gave me lots of opportunities to direct my own growth as a musician. With each group, you’re forced to change your mind and your playing. You have to be on your toes—stretching, improvising and thinking about what you’re going to do next.” And since all North Central ensembles are small, Max always has plenty of one-on-one contact with the faculty directing them.

What is Max’s goal for the future? “I want to be known for my art,” he says. “I’m confident...

Music: Jazz Studies major

Alyssa chose North Central College because of relationships she had developed with the jazz faculty while attending the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp, beginning at age 12. “I felt confident I wanted to pursue jazz performance and would continue to gain an immense amount of knowledge and learning experiences from North Central’s jazz studies program. Students work with truly phenomenal professional musicians.”

Among Alyssa’s favorite experiences were recording a CD and performing with multiple jazz ensembles. “I recorded an audition CD with members of the faculty and submitted two songs to a student contest at Downbeat Magazine. What an incredible opportunity to collaborate with professional musicians and...

Jazz Studies major

Ever since 7-year-old Matthew Miller played the black and white keys of a grand piano, he’s never had doubts about being a jazz musician. With his jazz studies major, he’s ready to enter the field as a professional.

“I want concerts, tours and records. North Central gave me the tools I need for my career.”

Matthew’s well-earned confidence comes from years of private lessons with North Central’s stellar jazz faculty. He credits his readiness to the individualized attention and close connections with professors—many of whom are current or former professional musicians.

“I’ve learned so much more from the North Central jazz faculty than how to sound good; they’ve taught me how to live as a...

Music: Jazz Studies major

Performing, touring, conducting, composing. Taylor has done it all at North Central. He sang in two choirs, played bass in jazz ensembles, helped conduct the pit orchestra for a theatrical production and wrote a musical, which was staged as a student production.

“There are so many opportunities at a small school if you go after them,” says Taylor.

A highlight was a choir tour of Italy, during which he served as assistant conductor for performances in Vatican City, Venice, Siena and Florence. “I conducted a piece for the choir in three cathedrals where we performed. Those were very cool moments.”

Taylor also focused on composing, he co-founded a new ensemble that performs original student...

Music: Jazz Studies major

After attending a concert by North Central’s jazz faculty, Eric knew where he wanted to study jazz.

“Their playing was amazing. When we talked after the concert, they were very personable and North Central felt like family from day one. The close proximity of campus to my home allowed me to continue teaching private lessons on weekends and stay connected to my family.”

Eric discovered his instructors were very passionate about their teaching. “They inspired me to go beyond what was asked and make the project something I truly cared about. I enjoyed the close connections with our teachers and seeing them perform. Here, learning isn’t limited to the classroom. Teachers are approachable and...

Jazz Studies major, Spanish minor, Leadership concentration

After attending the Janice Borla Vocal Jazz Camp at North Central, Wesley knew that jazz was the major for him. The College’s liberal arts curriculum allows him to refine his musical expertise while exploring other areas.

“If you’d like a comprehensive education in the jazz genre while also pursuing other interests, North Central is the place to be!”

Though he focuses on jazz, Wesley also is involved in classical voice exercises to become a versatile musician. Every week, he takes private classical voice, jazz voice and jazz piano lessons with musical professionals. He also stays involved with North Central’s Concert Choir, Vocal Jazz Ensemble and the top Jazz Combo.

 The talented...