Jazz Festival Information




NSU Johnson Fine Arts Center


Please contact Laura Haar, NSU School of Fine Arts secretary, at 605-626-2497 or laura.haar@northern.edu for the festival cost.



•    Big Band: A minimum of nine instrumental musicians performing with the traditional Big Band part assignments.
•    Jazz Combo: A maximum of eight musicians - usually with at least a bass, drums, and piano or guitar. Including instrumentalists or solo singers is very common.
•    Vocal Jazz Ensemble/Swing Choir: A vocal ensemble that performs jazz with a minimum of dancing. (No Show Choir, please)


1.    Class divisions: All ensembles are grouped in the same division regardless of school size. This is not a competition, but rather a learning environment to encourage each ensemble and their director(s).
2.    Scheduling will be done by classification and geographical location. All reasonable attempts will be made to accommodate specific scheduling requests.
3.    Ensembles' failure to meet the application/payment deadline may result in cancellation of their registration. Schools canceling their participation for any reason will not receive a refund.
4.    Each ensemble will be able to warm up in a separate room 30 minutes before the scheduled performance time. The warmup room is NOT a storage room in which to leave items.
5.    Each ensemble will have a 45-minute stage allotment during which they are to set up, perform, receive a clinic, and completely clear the stage.
6.    One band and one vocal ensemble may be chosen to perform on the evening concert with the Guest Clinician and the NSU ensembles. The decision will be made by the clinician, NSU participating faculty, and the festival directors. The decision is final. If you and your group will be unable stay for the evening performance, please make that known to the clinician at the time of your clinic.
7.    Performance attire is not required for the clinic, but will be for the evening performance, if selected.
8.    Each ensemble must supply two original scores for each selection that will be performed for use by the clinicians, with measures numbered and soloists indicated. These scores will be returned to the schools. Photo copies must be accompanied by permission by the publisher.
9.    Each festival participant is expected to conform to rules of good conduct, i.e., care of property, proper behavior, and adherence to all rules.
10.    If, in the opinion of the festival director, a serious infraction has occurred, appropriate action will be taken up to and including disqualification from participation in the festival.
11.    Any loud noises in hallways are not permitted. Please be respectful of NSU, its faculty, staff, and students.


Criteria used for each clinic:
•    Improvisation: Evaluation based on soloists' awareness of stylistic and harmonic content, ability to communicate ideas and make creative, personal, musical statements.
•    Style/Interpretation: Evaluation based on group's (director's) awareness of what entails the correct stylistic performance and interpretation of the chosen composition.
•    Programming/Presentation: Evaluation based on the appropriateness of the music relative to the group's abilities (technical and artistic), and how the music is presented (amount and type of improvisation, staging, microphone use, etc.)
•    Time and Rhythm: Evaluation based on the performance of the tempo (beat) and the figures (rhythms) relative to one another and to the rhythmic concept of the composition (Is it correct, and effective?)
§    Ensemble: Evaluation based on the ability of the group to consistently perform the music in a fundamentally correct manner (phrasing, accents, dynamics, releases, balance, etc.).
§    Intonation: Evaluation based on the ability of individuals to perform in tune with other members and the ensemble as a whole.
§    Articulation/Diction: Evaluation based on the ability to perform clean, clear, articulated musical phrases.


1.    For the sake of fairness to all vocal ensembles, no individual PA sound systems or monitor wedges will be allowed. Only festival workers may operate the sound systems.
2.    Northern State University will not assume responsibility for any lost items. 
3.    Storage areas will be provided for instruments and personal belongings.  The storage area is NOT to be used as a warmup area. Please, NO PLAYING IN THE STORAGE AREAS.
4.    The following will be provided:



Equipment provided in the warmup room

  • Chairs
  • Music stands
  • Electric or acoustic keyboard
  • Extension cord and power strip

Equipment provided in the warmup room

  • Music stands
  • Electric or acoustic keyboard
  • Extension cord and power strip

Equipment provided in performance site

  • Chairs
  • Music stands
  • Acoustic piano
  • Drum Set
  • Bass amp
  • Extension cord and power strip
  • Sound system to the house with six microphones
  • No monitor wedges will be allowed

Equipment provided at performance site

  • Acoustic piano
  • Basic drum kit
  • Bass amp
  • 16 solo microphones
  • 2 monitors
  • Sound tech
  • No playback system will be provided
  • No risers will be provided unless specifically requested
5.    A professional photographer may be available for each ensemble.
6.    Please bring any equipment that is necessary for the success of your performance such as additional drums, drum equipment, cymbals, amplifiers, vibes, auxiliary percussion, etc.
7.    Consider bringing a diagram of the performance layout. There may be workers at the performance who would help with the ensemble setup.
8.    Each jazz ensemble should plan on setting up in the traditional "stack" or "block" configuration. Stools are allowed, but not provided.
9.    The guest artists will perform at the evening Community Concert.
10.    All groups are invited to attend the evening concert. Limited tickets will be provided based on the number of performers and directors, plus five chaperones.