The CJA All-State Jazz Audition Workshop

Charleston Jazz Academy

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, 9:00am-1:00pm 

$25 per student

All- State Jazz Band Audition Workshop is designed to prepare students for the coming band auditions in January. Many deserving students, when faced with the challenging format of the audition process, underperform when they know they could do much better. Our audition experts will help prepare all students by providing strategies for audition success!


Our workshop is designed to prepare all students at every level. Whether students are auditioning for the first time or have auditioned in the past and want to improve their results this time around, All-State Jazz Audition Workshop will improve their performance. If a student has earned a seat in the All-State Jazz Ensemble and want to move to a higher chair, this workshop can help, too!


This intensive, four-hour workshop will cover topics, such as:


  • Understanding the audition format and how to mentally prepare for each requirement
  • How to prepare and perform the required scales in chromatic order
  • Performing the solo is more than notes and rhythms. Style is essential!
  • Proper breathing (even drummers need this!) and how it makes a difference.
  • IMPROVISATION! Strategies on how to prepare a good improv solo;
  • SIGHT READING! How to overcome your fear and boost your score.


An important portion of the workshop is about how to prepare for improvisation.  There is a misconception about how to “practice” improvisation.  We will show students proven strategies on how to prepare to have a better improv score and a less stressful experience in this important part of the audition.

Sight-reading is also an important part of the audition and slightly different from the regular band auditions.  Being aware of styles and how rhythms are played in that style is a factor. We will go over what to look for and how to maximize your prep time to get the best results. 


The workshop will feature experienced jazz musicians on all horns and rhythm section. The workshop is led by Basil Kerr, former Wando and School of the Arts band director and current head of the Charleston Jazz Academy.


The workshop schedule is as follows:

9:00—Introduction to the audition process- “How to Play the Game”

  • Introduction and review of the audition process
    • Scales - five chromatically adjacent major scales
    • Solo  
    • Sight reading 
    • Improvisation
    • Tone

f.      “How to play the game”

  • How to prepare your scales and not be bored


10:00- Instrument-specific sessions—

  • Brasses 
  • Saxes 
  • Things to consider when preparing the solo
  • Listen to the recording
  • Start slow and with the correct style
  • It’s more than just the notes
  • When you get the notes and rhythms, now the REAL work begins!
  •  Drummers:
    • How to get the styles in your hands and feet
    • The style audition and fills-stop for each, or play through? 

10:45- Improvisation-

  • Have some “go to” riffs, and scales ready to use.
  • Silence is your friend (if used wisely)
  • Confidence and Courage are the most important musical factors
  • You can prepare your improv solos (the “Lockjaw Davis” approach)


11:30- Sight Reading-


  • General thoughts about approaching this challenge
  • What to look for and how to “cheat” the timing. 
  • Fingering and “tizzling”- your most important tools!
  • You will make mistakes! Forgive yourself and move on.


12:15- You Be the Judge!” - Mock audition to review the format

  • Hear how the adjudicators make decisions about specific situations.

Q & A session