Should You Study Jazz in Europe Instead of America?

Jazz was born in America. It came from the pains and trials of African Americans and it was developed in jazz clubs and dives. Sure, it soon migrated to the European continent, but the US was still the grand stage for the greatest jazz names in history. Therefore, if you are a jazz musician in the making, should you opt for a program in the US or for a program in Europe. This article is referred to students who are considering all options and who do not have in their own country a university with a great jazz program. Consider this article as being a general comparison between Jazz programs in Europe and similar programs in the US.


NYU Steinhardt Study Abroad Program in Prague

The New York University Steinhardt is offering an undergraduate program for students to study music in Prague. The program is accessible for both NYU students as well as students from other universities. Within this program, students have the possibility to study Improvisation, Music History and Theory and Keyboard Harmony. Apart from that, they can take individual lessons on Jazz Ensembles.
Studying in Prague is a great experience. Sure, the program we mention is not dedicated to jazz but has a jazz component. It is a good option for people who are still trying to find their career path. Apart from that, the music programs is still affiliated to the NYU, a very prestigious world educational institution.

The Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen

Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim

Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim

The European Jazz Master is a joint operation between leading European music academies, such as the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, the Jazz-Institut Berlin, and the jazz programme at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. It is a two-year program designed to shape the future European jazz musicians and to prepare them for the real demands of the job market. It is important to note that the program is not a purely theoretical one, but one that aims at offering a complete approach to a career in jazz. Students will have to go to mandatory semesters aboard and to create a strong network of other professionals.

It is important to mention that this is not a beginner’s program, but an advanced, in-depth study of jazz, with emphasis on innovation and individual development. There are also intensive modules held in rotation at any of the five partner conservatoires. With such remarkable resources and an openness to study in different environments, the program is an amazing option for any potential student.

The London Centre of Contemporary Music

London Centre of Contemporary Music

London Centre of Contemporary Music

There is a 3-year jazz performance course at the London Centre of Contemporary Music for Vocal Jazz. Students can combine modules and opt for vocal jazz along with a second instrument, songwriting, and production. There are the resources to make every course participant become a complete musician and a great professional. Another amazing thing is that there are workshops with famous jazz singers and the professors are great, which is an amazing opportunity for anyone. Emphasis is laid on analysis, transcription, and listening.

Throughout the three years, students will learn, among other things, rhythmic interpretation, writing and performing original blues, understanding rhythmic specific African American components, extended voicings and modal developments, rhythmic groupings, altered pentatonics and hexatonics, and writing an original composition.

Hanze University of Applied Sciences at Groningen, the Netherlands

Hanze University of Applied Sciences at Groningen

Hanze University of Applied Sciences at Groningen

There is an incredible jazz program developed in partnership with top New York jazz singers, to bring the American jazz experience all the way over to Europe. Classes are in English and they include theory, composing, arranging, and ear training. Emphasis is laid on stage experience and students are encouraged to start performing as soon as possible. Future jazz singers can benefit from private lessons and ensemble experience at the same time.

Like all other good European jazz programs, this is not a theoretical approach, but a dynamic program with real prospects in the music industry at the end, teaching musical entrepreneurship and didactical subjects. The fact that real professionals in jazz are leading the classes means that the students are getting a firsthand insight on what the industry is really like. Of course, this is also something good professors can provide, but those who also practice are closer to the real job market realities. By the time the program is over, you will be able to perform, analyze other people’s performance, compose and arrange music, promote yourself or other singers, and even teach.

An annual trip to New York is guaranteed to students who thus benefit from what is best in musical education from both worlds. At the end of the classes, the students will be asked to perform in a final concert and to present the musical vision they have developed over the years.

Admission is not necessarily easy, but it will come in handy for well-prepared students. Potential students are expected to have a specific level of training before applying and there is an entrance exam to be passed. The test only takes 30 minutes, results may be shown on the same day, and students who are not in Europe can even pass Skype interviews or send DVDs for their audition. Being very selective in their recruiting process does not mean that they are less open to different types of applications.

Jazz Programs in Europe vs Jazz Programs in the US

As we managed to prove, there are great jazz programs in Europe. Combined with the unique experience of being a student in any great European city, you get a win-win situation for any wanna-be jazz musician. However, it is worth noticing that these programs are usually backed by huge American institutions that import their know-how, they professionals, their curriculum, and that even get some of the students to travel between the US and Europe. This is a 360 approach to studying a genre and probably the best case scenario possible for any student.