UW Saxophone Applicants


(frequently asked questions)






Q: For jazz auditions, can I play a piece like "Solar" that doesn't have a lot of chord changes, or should I be playing something a lot tougher?


A: "Solar" is fine...it is of medium difficulty. It has lots of II-V-Is for you to show off your skill at navigating changes. Even just playing a Blues is good, so long as you play well.   Remember, you are competing with others, so you want to show us your skills in their best light...play things that challenge you at the top of your playing level. I you have lots of ability with navigating chord changes, then a piece like "Joy Spring" is good choice for showing off that ability, but ONLY if you are ready to play it really well--otherwise, Solar is great.


Q: What about the Glazounov Concerto for a classical audition?


A: The Glazounov is an excellent piece. You might also choose something else to prepare, that contrasts with it, and shows off other aspects of your playing. Anything will do---perhaps a contemporary piece? An aria? Something that requires lots of articulation & rhythmic interpretation? A Baroque transcription?


Even if we don't have time, in your short 15 minute audition, for you to play through ALL of the Glazounov plus some other piece, it would be great to know you have prepared more music. We might ask you to separately send a recording of you

playing the rest of whatever pieces we don't finish in the audition.


The main point here is not make you sweat, but rather, that you want to show us as many facets of your musicianship as you can. If you have written any pieces, we would love to hear recordings of them on a CD or MP3 file.  If you also play jazz or rock or folk music, then send a recording of that. Still, you should make certain you concentrate you main energies on playing well for your live audition on the piece you feel best shows off your skills. If the Glazounov is that piece, then keep yourself primarily focused on that. 





Q: When are auditions for UW ensemble, and how do I prepare for the auditions?


A: You can contact the ensemble conductors directly to get more specific information, but in general the jazz ensemble/big band auditions are held on the first day of the fall quarter, and are primarily a test of your ability to sight read in the jazz style. You can also show your skills improvisation. Cuong Vu <cuongvu@u.washington.edu> is the director.


For the Wind Ensemble, there is a specific audition piece made available in the late spring, and auditions are held on the first day of fall quarter.  Sight reading and scales are included.  Tim Salzman is the conductor of the WE.


For the jazz combos, there is an audition testing your improvisation skills.  Marc Seales directs these groups.



Q: Do I have to be a music major to play in ensembles?


A: No, they are open (by audition) to all UW students.





Q: Do I have to be a music major to take saxophone lessons?


A: The answer is normally yes, because there are a limited number of spots, and there is a waiting list of people who want to be saxophone music majors. 



Q: How do I accepted into private saxophone lessons?


A:  By audition. There are a few different dates throughout the school year when woodwind auditions are held at the School of Music. However, most of the available spots are filled through the January auditions held each year, and most serious candidates contact Michael Brockman beginning in October, one full year prior to the year they wish to enroll in the UW.



Q: Can I get into the saxophone studio if I am a bari or soprano sax player?


A: YES. You can choose ANY of the four main saxophones (alto, tenor, bari, soprano) as your primary instrument.  All of them are taught here, BUT in most cases you will have to become completely proficient in alto and tenor sax, and you must own these instruments.





Q: Can I be a classical saxophone major?


A: Yes. Study consists of contemporary and traditional concert repertoire, etudes, technical study, tone, phrasing, intonation, articulation, vibrato, orchestral literature, avant garde and extended techniques, and all that goes into being a fine concert artist. Some jazz and other contemporary pop music study is also required.


Q: Can I be a jazz saxophone major?


A: Yes. Study consists of contemporary and traditional jazz repertoire, etudes, technical study, tone, phrasing, intonation, articulation, vibrato, literature, avant-garde and extended techniques, and all that goes into being a fine concert artist.



Q: Do jazz studies majors have to study classical music?


A:  Yes, as a jazz major you would be required to study a fair amount of

classical repertoire and technique exercises in order to build technical control over the instrument, but this is less than half of what you will play, depending on what your needs are for the development of technical control over your instrument.






Q: How many people are accepted into the saxophone studio each year.  Is competition high for getting in?


A:  Entrance into the saxophone studio is very competitive...we have only around four spots open in a given year.  Most people are very accomplished by the time they audition into the studio, and by necessity, most all of the studio spots go to people pursuing a music degree in saxophone as their major. 



Q: What do I play for my audition?


A: The "Saxophone Flyer" on the UW Saxophone Studio web page includes this information in detail.



Q: Can I audition by tape or CD?


A: Yes, but it is not nearly as effective as a live audition, and historically does not result in acceptance.  People who come to audition in person make a much stronger impression.





The UW does not currently have any graduate teaching assistantships in the applied instrumental program. 


Instrumental music scholarships are awarded based on the quality of the audition you play at the January/February auditions here on the UW campus. Most students get under $1000 per year, but some awards go as high as  $5000. On average, a very strong high school saxophone performer wins around $2000 of scholarship support. Graduate students usually win more.  However, the amounts change each year, depending on the level of competition for spots in the saxophone studio, and the number applicants we have.


Once you have been awarded a scholarship, there is an informal expectation that you will receive a similar award for each year of study.  However, this can be effected by economic and budget cutbacks, and you are expected to be making solid progress in your instrumental study as well as maintain participation in main UW School of Music ensembles in your area of study.


Waivers of out-of-state tuition are possible, but they are not easy to get--and the normally go to people who play exceptional auditions and have qualified for large scholarships of around $3000 or more.  You may well be among those people, but you must play a very high level audition.






First off, we would encourage you to visit our UW Sax Web site


and view all the material there, especially the Saxophone Flyer. The UW is a great school in general, and it has a very fine School of Music within a major liberal arts university...so you get the best of academic worlds: a conservatory education and a great college experience.


That said, the saxophone program is very strong. We have great players in the studio, and maintain very high standards.  We have both classical saxophone majors, and jazz majors, and Michael Brockman is professionally active (very!) in both areas, playing in and leading several leading jazz groups in town, and in the Seattle Symphony as well.


Our students have repeatedly won top awards in the classical competitions here at the UW (winning spots in the concerto concerts) and both jazz and classical majors take top honors each year in the financial scholarship competitions.


The UW is a great place for saxophonists, and our long list of alumni with successful careers is a testament to this.