Why Study Jazz at NCC?
The North Central College Jazz Studies Program is staffed by nine internationally known professional jazz artists at the pinnacle of their professional careers.
Janice Borla - Jazz Voice
Mitch Paliga - Jazz Saxophone
Art Davis - Jazz Trumpet
Tim Coffman - Jazz Trombone
Brad Stirtz - Jazz Vibraphone
John McLean - Jazz Guitar
Chris White - Jazz Piano
Kelly Sill - Jazz Bass
Jack Mouse - Drums Set & Program Director
The entire jazz faculty is adjunct by design. Our analogy is: “If you are going to study sky diving, better to study with people who actually jump out of airplanes.”
We believe that jazz is, always has been and always will be, an improvisatory art form. Therefore, the art of improvisation is highly stressed in our ensembles and curriculum.
The NCC Jazz Studies is highly ranked by the media, based on the quality of its faculty and innovative curriculum.
The program has a high profile in the international jazz community, attracting students from as far away as Russia, Poland, Ecuador and Japan.
Graduate success stories:
Alyssa Allgood - voice (class of 2014) –
Winner, Down Beat Student Award Competition, best collegiate jazz vocalist
Finalist, Montreux Jazz Festival Vocal Jazz Competition
First runner-up, Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival Jazz Voice Competition
Brian Riordan - percussion (class of 2014) – PhD in Composition, University of Pittsburg
Peter Mack - drums (class of 2014) – Active professional on the Chicago music scene
Grant Gustafson - guitar (class of 2013) –
Featured on the LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN show
Featured in Rolling Stone Magazine
Taylor Martin - bass (class of 2013) –
Masters Degree in Composition, Lamont School of Music
Staff Conductor, Colorado Symphony Chorus
Maxx Popp - drums (class of 2013) – Top call drummer, Holland America Cruise Line
Eric Skov - guitar (class of 2013) – Masters Degree in Jazz Performance, Northwestern University.
Alex Williams - bass (class of 2013) — National Manager of Student Experience, Guitar Center
Mark Nelson - piano (class of 2007) – Active professional on the Chicago music scene.
Jakub Rojek - piano (class of 2006) – Masters Degree in Jazz Performance, New England Conservatory.
Jamie Gallagher - drums (class of 2000) – Active professional on the Chicago music scene.
Don Smith - saxophone (class of 1997) — Regional Sales Manager, Pro Music Division, Yamaha International
Our Jazz Ensembles include:
Vocal Jazz Ensemble
Chamber Jazz Ensembles
Training Combo Class
Our Jazz Studies Scholarships (see scholarship page) are available to:
Jazz Studies Majors
Jazz Studies Minors
Our Jazz Studies Curriculum (see curriculum page) includes:
Applied functional jazz piano for non-pianists
Jazz Arranging & Composition
The NCC Jazz Studies Program invites comparisons. When researching jazz studies programs, we suggest that you ask the following questions:
Question: Does the institution actively support the jazz studies program?
Answer: In an age when financial support for the arts is being reduced, North Central College enthusiastically supports all of the visual and performing arts on campus. Our ample arts scholarships and the new state-of-the-art Wentz Concert Hall is certainly adequate proof.
Question: Does the location of the institution have a significant impact on the study of jazz?
Answer: Chicago has long been known as one of the major international centers for the art of jazz. North Central College is located in the Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois. We are just close enough to the city to enjoy its many advantages and just far enough away to avoid any disadvantages. Indeed, the Chicago Metra Train Station is located at the north end of our campus, and our jazz studies students certainly take advantage of this convenience. We believe that it defies logic to study jazz at a location that is nowhere near a jazz center.
Question: Do the jazz ensembles meet once per week for an hour?
Answer: At NCC, our jazz ensembles meet twice per week for an hour and a half.
Question: Are any jazz ensembles led by students, graduate assistants or secondary faculty?
Answer: At NCC, all jazz ensembles are lead by primary jazz faculty only.
Question: Are the applied lessons one half hour in length?
Answer: At NCC, all applied lessons in the jazz studies are a full one hour in length.
Question: Will I be taking my applied lessons with the primary jazz faculty member, or with a graduate student or secondary faculty member?
Answer: At NCC, all applied jazz lessons are given by primary jazz faculty. When any of our faculty’s schedules is full, we close enrollment until openings become available.
FINALLY, we highly recommend that you schedule a personal visit day through the office of admissions to spend a day with the jazz studies program to attend classes, rehearsals and perhaps, take a private lesson with a jazz faculty member. It also affords you the opportunity to meet our jazz faculty and the jazz students in the program. We believe that this is an extremely important aspect in your search for a suitable program. Education in the arts is generally a mentoring process ….a great deal of one-on-one time spent between teacher and student. Personal chemistry is a very important element contributing to the success or failure of the process.