Jazz Studies Program

The Jazz Studies Program at WMU has gained international recognition for its innovative approach to jazz education.  The program attracts undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the United States and worldwide.  Graduates of the program are among today’s leaders in jazz and pop performance, Broadway, recording studio production, writing, arranging, singing, and music education.

Down Beat Awards have been won by WMU students in the categories of Big Band, Vocal Jazz Choir, Instrumental and Vocal Soloists, Instrumental and Vocal Jazz Combos, Studio Orchestra, Live and Studio Engineering, Arranging and Composition.  WMU has amassed over 100 awards since 1984, ranking it among the top three collegiate award winners in the nation since that time.

The Union, a world class jazz club located in downtown Kalamazoo, has established a professional working partnership with the Jazz Studies program at WMU. Over 80 performances are booked annually by jazz studies students and faculty at this first class venue.  Visit the Union’s website for upcoming performances.

Guest Artists/Residencies: The Jazz Studies program enjoys a constant flow of guest artists for concerts, classes, and residencies, often several a month. Billy Hart and Fred Hersch are visiting artist faculty. Stefon Harris is the Fontana Chamber Arts jazz artist-in-residence. Recent guest artists include Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Tom Harrell, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Garrett, Randy Brecker, Jamey Haddad,  Slide Hampton, Kenny Werner, Lyle Mays, John Clayton, Gene Bertoncini, Rufus Reid, John Abercrombie, Eliane Elias, The Manhattan Transfer, Take Six, New York Voices, Kurt Elling, Curtis Stigers, Esperanza Spalding, Luciana Souza and many more.

Recording Studio: Western Sound Studios is both a commercial recording studio and a teaching facility in the School of Music at Western Michigan University.  The studio is equipped with state of the art gear including world class microphones (Neumann, Royer, DPA, etc.),  microphone preamplifiers (Avalon, Cranesong, John Hardy, True Systems), compressors (Cranesong, API, Manley), and much more.  The studio is also home to a RADAR hard disc recorder, a Pro Tools HD3 Accel work station, and a Digidesign 003 remote recording rig.  The studio records many of the School of Music’s ensembles both in live performances and studio recordings for release on CD.  Students at Western Sound Studios have won numerous prestigious awards from Downbeat magazine, the Audio Engineering Society, and others.